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goodnight. tomorrow but for now

Closed captions by CSI

THEME MUSIC 'Tonight on Catalyst...' to global warming? Could this be the solution at some radical wheels.' 'And Jonica takes a look is an autonomous wheel robot. Each of these wheels

G'day. Welcome to Catalyst. Here's something to think about. What if the current world effort doesn't work? to reduce our carbon emissions get them down quickly enough What if we don't to avoid catastrophic climate change? Is there a plan B? are working on one. Well, some scientists I recently went to London and Zurich designed to engineer our climate. to check out work that's, remarkably, is a highly complex, 'Our planet's climate interlocked, self-organising system. for eons. It's been under nature's control take over some of the control? Could we intervene and believe we could.' Well, advocates of geoengineering engineering of the climate Geoengineering is the deliberate of climate change. to combat some of the effects For example, one suggestion is of sulfate particles into the sky. to release a whole lot with pollution. It's like fighting pollution

warm things up on Earth, Just as carbon emissions should cool things down. the sulfate particles FUNKY MUSIC but here in London, 'It sounds completely crazy, a new credibility. geoengineering has taken on

seriously investigated Its ideas have been by no less than the Royal Society.' some of the world's top scientists. The Royal Society is a collection of a real honour to become a member. In fact, it's considered since 1660.' The organisation's been going STATELY MUSIC 'This is its headquarters in London,

scientists, Professor Jo Haigh, and one of the geoengineering panel gave me the official tour.' DOOR CREAKS of the Royal Society. So, here we are in the old library Yeah, very impressive. Yeah. Highly decorated, as you can see. around the walls here. And you've got a lot of famous busts

That's right. Who's this guy? This is John Flamsteed, around the year 1700. who was the Astronomer Royal Yeah, and more up the end here. Oh, that's Michael Faraday. that's Michael Faraday, That's right, on electricity and magnetism. very famous for the work Yeah? 'But back to geoengineering. get involved?' Why would the Royal Society been involved much more The Royal Society's over the last few years, in the sort of policy angle interested in and it's been particularly and climate change. looking at climate That's right. This is the famous report. that the Royal Society commissioned. This is Geoengineering The Climate geoengineering. It's pretty controversial stuff, political agenda to such an extent It is, but it's risen up the try and pretend it doesn't exist. that I think it's not sensible to try and look at it objectively The thing to do is and see the pros and cons on the whole thing. and have a scientific perspective from the very sci-fi - 'There's a whole host of ideas, giant sun shades in space - cooling the Earth by constructing

as fertiliser.' to adding iron to the oceans Fertilising the oceans means to help algae grow, putting certain nutrients in the sea when the algae grow and just as when trees grow on land, out of the atmosphere, they suck carbon dioxide thus reducing our carbon emissions. That works. be poisoning the oceans The trouble is that you might also by putting in these extra things, and we need to think about of these mechanisms. what is the side effects LOUD RUMBLING 'Remarkably, one of the more serious ideas into the sky.' is putting sulfate particles they emit particles, When big volcanoes erupt, and when it's a very big eruption, sit in the stratosphere these particles for months, if not years, in response to volcanic eruptions. and there has been measured cooling So the idea would be those sort of volcanic eruptions to essentially simulate into the stratosphere by putting sulfate particles back to space. and reflect the sun's radiation from airborne craft, 'The particles could be released silver iodide particles into clouds just as today planes release to try to seed rain. it could be done, If cost were no object,

but there'd be a few consequences.' It almost certainly would destroy ozone, in response to volcanic eruptions. and we've seen ozone depletion

what would happen to the weather?' 'And the world might be cooler, but climate back to where it was before, You don't get the whole of the the monsoon patterns, for example, so there are large changes in the whole of the hydrological cycle, and tropical rainfall, and affects the tropics which therefore, of course, in a very significant way, and you have to be very careful that one part of the climate system you're not tweaking without knowing what's happening to the rest. 'When you look into geoengineering, you get the feeling it's a road we don't really want to go down.' You may do one of these interfering techniques and have missed one of the links or not taken proper account of some of the effects, and put yourself into an even worse situation than you were before. 'But in Switzerland, there's one geoengineering suggestion that's in a different category.' Here, they're experimenting with taking out all the carbon dioxide we've put into the atmosphere, and one way you might do that is with giant mirrors. 'Like a child's magnifying glass, an enormous mirror focuses sunlight, creating tremendous heat.' A flat mirror reflects the sunlight into this building and onto this parabolic mirror. We can reach maximum concentration of about 5,000 suns, and what you can do with this is reach very high temperatures up to 2,000 degrees. 'And those temperatures can be used to remove CO2 from the sky. All you need is some carbon dioxide-absorbing powder.' This is a very simple chemical compound, calcium oxide, also known as quicklime. Now, the thing is, when you heat it, it absorbs carbon dioxide just out of the ambient air, turning some of this substance into calcium carbonate, limestone. The carbon dioxide is safely stored in the limestone. 'Researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology have built this laboratory demonstration of the process.' (SPEAKS INDISTINCTLY) 'An artificial light fills in for the sun, and air from the room is pumped through calcium oxide powder. The treated air is then measured.' OK, so we should start to see the CO2 content drop? Yes, as soon as we have our temperature of 380 degrees Celsius. Oh, yeah. There, it's starting now. Yeah. Gee, it goes quickly! So, we could take all the carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, cause another ice age. We could go below pre-industrial. You're right. (CHUCKLES) 'Cost means the limestone powder is only a temporary storage.' The beauty of this reaction is

further heat this substance up past 800 degrees Celsius, and it gives off its carbon dioxide, which can then be captured. 'The calcium oxide powder's recycled and the CO2 liquefied and perhaps stored underground. The cost of building these giant sun-focusing facilities that create enough heat to melt bricks is, of course, an issue, but the researchers have come up with a new version of their process that doesn't need these kinds of temperatures. In fact, standard solar technology could do the job.' We are currently developing a whole process which can work with temperatures as low as 80 or 100 degrees as top temperature. We plan to build a pilot plant capturing around one tonne of CO2 per day by the end of 2010. Standard European citizen emits around seven tonnes of CO2 per year, so with that device, we could capture the emissions of 50 people per day.

'Of course, capturing carbon, even if it works, would still be an expensive option. You'd only do it if you were desperate.' I think that's the number one message. We should do everything that we can to reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. 'Let's hope to save the world, we don't have to use our last resort. Coming up on Catalyst...' Waves play a vital role in sustaining marine life. We all love public transport, right? Well, on a good day. But what would you think of a form of public transport that you drive yourself, is pollution-free, and when you arrive, it neatly folds up? Jonica Newby went to Boston to check out a new kind of car that could revolutionise the way we get around. HORNS TOOT 'Around the world, cities are beginning to choke on their own traffic. Yet, existing public transport has some frustrating flaws.'

Well, today I came by train to avoid the rush hour freeway carpark. Unfortunately, it's dropped me about 3km from where I want to go and it's about to rain. Wouldn't it be great if I could just pick up a little car here and drop it when I get there? COMICAL HORN TOOTS WHIRRING AND BUZZING 'Think this is just a dream? Well, I'm off to Boston, to the place where dreams are engineered into reality.'

After you. 'This is the famous Media Lab at MIT.' Carry on. (CHUCKLES)

'And here are the guys who are building the world's first fold-up electric car.' This is the car. This is it. Not full size, I gather? No, one-half size, one-half scale. One-half size. Yes. OK. So, it does tricks?

Let's hope this works. I'm now gonna make this car fold. WHIRRING Oh, excellent! Yep, and when it's folded, it fits in the width of a regular parking space. You're kidding! That's right. That's fantastic! So you can park the car perpendicular to the sidewalk, and then the door will actually come open through the front and you step out onto the sidewalk. 'It's a mind-bogglingly different kind of electric car, which is exactly what its conceptual creator was hoping for.' I'd been talking for years to some of my colleagues in Urban Design, and we kept on whining about the condition of cities and sort of recognising that the automobile is a key problem. And it got to the point where I said, "It's time to stop whining.

We need to fundamentally reinvent the automobile." The secret is a revolutionary new form of drive. This car - this is a model of the chassis - doesn't have a motor. It has four, and each of them is inside a wheel. Each of these wheels is an autonomous wheel robot. So this here, that's the steering. That's the motor, and this is the suspension. Apart from this mechanical connection,

the only thing that connects to the body of the car... ..is information and electric power. 'With the engine effectively in the wheels, the body of the car is freed up to do cool things, like folding, which halves precious parking space.' WHIRRING 'And it allows a few more tricks.' So, we're about to perform what we call an O-turn. The vehicle can spin in very small spaces because each wheel can turn a full 120 degrees. Oh, excellent! So imagine... So you can do this in traffic? Yes. That'd cause chaos! (LAUGHS) Well, you can also imagine getting in and out of parking spots much easier. If you have this capability, you don't ever have to go in reverse anymore. You don't have to reverse out of a parking spot? Ever. No more banging your car into those damn high-rise carpark pillars. That's right. Just turn the vehicle to the direction and head out headfirst. 'The car is also lighter, stronger, and way more energy efficient than a petrol car, and with an expected price of around $12,000, the revolutionary thinking doesn't stop there. You see, you don't have to own one. They could just be stacked around the city for use on demand.' You just swipe a credit card, pick up the automobile, drive it to a drop-off point near where you want to go and just leave it, so it's a one-way rental kind of system. 'A full-scale driveable prototype will be built next year, and they assure me a demo on demand system will be running within five. But if that seems a long wait, there's an exciting spin-off that's ready now.' Now, this looks like an ordinary bike. It's not. It's not? No. 'Look at the back wheel. It's another one of these in-wheel robots. Apparently, you can easily replace the back wheel of any existing bike and turn it into an electric bike.' What do I do? So, you have a throttle here which provides power. The more you push, the more throttle you'll get. Here goes! Right, what do I...? I press...? Ooh! This is fun! Don't forget to pedal too!

I have to pedal as well? Yes, at the same time. Oh, I get pedal assisted! Whoo-hoo! Watch out! Slow down, slow down. (LAUGHS) We're really excited about our little green wheel, our little electric bike. It's a very low-cost, low-risk way of introducing the concept of electric vehicles into cities so you can move up from little lightweight bikes to things like scooters, and then to enclosed climate-controlled automobiles.

I suspect that's going to be the transition pathway.

I'd go faster, but it's slippery in here. 'The first commercial green wheels will be rolling off the production line this year.' But I will watch out for the marble floor! 'Just one word of advice - try not to test-drive it on a marble floor! Just because the technology's smart, doesn't mean the driver is.' Ooh! (LAUGHS) We've seen the destructive power of ocean waves in recent news stories. Huge storm swells can do terrible damage to both our beaches and coastal ecosystems. But waves also play a positive role in helping to sustain sea life. Surfing scientist Ruben Meerman takes us under the surf this time to check out how wave action in Western Australia is feeding the reefs. INSPIRING MUSIC RUBEN MEERMAN: 'This underwater wonderland is just minutes from Perth.' It's one of the world's biodiversity hot spots in terms of diversity of reef life and seaweed. 'At the heart of this thriving marine environment are these magical kelp forests.' It's the main food source for a whole range of different organisms. The general aims of our research are to find out exactly what makes the west coast ecosystem tick. 'And it turns out that waves are the driving force.' Waves are beautiful above and below the surface, but they also play a vital role in sustaining marine life. DR BABCOCK: Waves are moving water around these coastal ecosystems and driving currents that carry nutrients and food.

'And it's nutrients like nitrates and phosphates

that are so vital to the kelp.' The sediment is where organic material breaks down. The nutrients are dissolved, but they're trapped in the sediment. 'Dr Martin Lourey is examining the link between waves and nutrients.' What we do is we put this instrument out. It collects water samples at regular intervals. We try to predict periods of waves. We put the instrument out just before the waves come through

and retrieve it just after. 'Water samples are analysed for dissolved nutrients, and Martin has found a close correlation between wave action and levels of nitrate and phosphate.' It does seem that the waves moving across uneven, sandy sediments do promote the transfer of nutrients from the sediments up into the surrounding water, and those nutrients are then used very quickly by the plant communities out here. 'And the kelp forests depend on these dissolved nutrients to survive.' WONDROUS MUSIC

'Inshore currents distribute those nutrients and keep them swirling around the kelp. Dr Graham Symonds is examining how waves drive these currents.' When the waves actually break on the reefs, where you can see the white water, then they do actually start driving a steady current. 'He uses acoustic technology and pressure sensors to measure waves and currents.' So, we're putting some of these right on top of the reefs, others in the channels between the reefs. 'Using those measurements, Graham is able to model the entire area.' Currents are indicated by the arrows, strong currents represented by longer arrows. These currents get quite strong when the waves break. 'And any change in those wave-driven currents will ultimately affect the kelp. Dr Mat Vanderklift and his colleagues closely monitor the kelp forests.' We punch a hole in the bottom, and we can measure how far that hole has moved, and that's a measure of how much the kelp has grown. That was beautiful, the way the waves whipped the kelp around, and then we saw this huge school of fish! Yes, silver drummers feeding on the kelp. 'Back in the lab, the kelp is measured, weighed and analysed. A robot is also deployed, mapping the reef and capturing images of the kelp. This data can be compared from one year to the next. And if the waves are big enough, they can rip the kelp out. You might think that all this does is destroy the kelp, but sunlight now penetrates the forest, encouraging new life.' When there's a gap created, we find that the species that are inhabiting that gap are completely different from the ones that are inhabiting the kelp canopy. So you get a whole different suite of seaweed species, you get different invertebrates coming in, sponges, corals. 'And the drifting kelp becomes an important food source.' Oh, look at this. This is a beauty here. Great. Look at that bit of kelp. It just looks like dead stuff to me, but it's actually feeding a whole bunch of critters right through to the big ones out there.

Absolutely. The energy that's in those kelp plants gets eaten by small sand hoppers, amphipods or isopods, and then they form food for the next higher food level. It's an incredibly important part of the food chain for everything from small fish to lobsters. Right. INSPIRING MUSIC I think one of the most surprising things is that waves are an incredibly important link throughout the whole system. They not only affect biodiversity at small scales, but they're effecting changes right across the shelf in the whole seasonal cycle and the productivity of the system.

It's really gratifying to see that, especially because waves are such beautiful things. MYSTERIOUS MUSIC Dr James Robinson is the man in charge of Australia's real-life CSI. He heads up forensics with the Australian Federal Police.

He's seen the organisation grow from very modest beginnings

to a multi-site, multi-discipline department. He still gets great pleasure from catching the crims with science.

The real satisfaction in forensic science is that you're applying science to real issues with real outcomes, whether it's identifying a deceased person or helping to free someone who's innocent, or helping the police convict someone who's guilty of an offence. I came to Australia in '83, and for a couple of months I worked on one of Australia's famous royal commissions in South Australia. After that trip I sort of decided, well, you know, I think Australia would be a nice place to live. GRIM MUSIC When I joined the Australian Federal Police in 1989, I was met by someone who said, "Here's $1 million. You're now actually responsible for looking after drug testing for the AFP."

So I went off and sort of found out what that involved. MAN: There you go. Merry Christmas. The AFP did not have a strong forensic group. It was focused mainly on crime scenes and fingerprints and some firearms work. (MAN SHOUTS INDISTINCTLY)

One of the first things I did was to establish a laboratory

so that we could do our own testing. I've got a very broad interest in forensic science, so pretty much everything interests me, but specifically I was a botanist originally, so I like looking at small things that you see down microscopes, and hairs and fibres are what I've sort of made my speciality. In 2005, the then Lebanese prime minister was killed in a suicide bombing, and we've been sent the samples from the United Nations, fragments of skull with hairs attached.

So we're examining these hairs, which might help them towards identifying what part of the world the suicide bomber came from. Forensic scientists tend to have a very objective view of life, and we try not to allow ourselves, you know, to get involved in the emotions of the cases that we're working on. But when you meet someone in the South-East Asian tsunami and you know that the work that you or your colleagues have done

have actually, you know, returned their loved one to them, that's unique. And this is another great instrument called the Polylight. This was actually invented by the Australian Federal Police over at the Australian National University back in the early 1980s. We can pick up things like blood, semen, fingerprints, trace evidence, and that's seen in CSI. The problem with CSI is that it is actually so unrealistic. They show one person doing everything, instant answers, and that's just not the way real life is. ROOSTER CROWS

The future for forensic science has to be about delivering quicker results, but a lot of the answers can only be delivered after extensive testing in the laboratory, so where the world of forensic science is moving is really about trying to take some of the technologies that we've traditionally used in the laboratory and get them out into the field like you see in CSI - and we're not there yet - but so we can give quicker answers to investigators that focus their investigation more quickly at the beginning and increase the chance of actually finding an offender. GRAHAM: 'Next week on Catalyst, Maryanne reports on a remarkable stem cell breakthrough.' Chinese researchers create life from skin. 'And Paul braves the mountain cold in New Zealand.' What is this glacier telling us about climate change? Well, that's it for now. Don't forget our website for loads of extras. You can view recent programs, even download them. Now, check out this amazing footage sent in to us by a viewer. I'll bet you've never seen a praying mantis chasing a mouse before. If you've captured some equally surprising behaviour, please send it to us for our Animal Action gallery. Who knows? It might be a first, never before observed even by scientists. Details are on our website. See you next time. Closed Captions by CSI - Debbie Coughlin

This program is not subtitled This Program is Captioned Good with an ABC News update. Tony Good evening. Virginia Haussegger with an ABC News update. Tony Abbott has bowed to pressure has bowed to pressure and dumped Barnaby economic team. Announcing a Barnaby Joyce from the Coalition's reshuffle late today, the economic team. Announcing a shadow Leader said Sentor Joyce reshuffle late today, the Opposition out from behind a desk and Leader said Sentor Joyce needs to ge out from behind a desk and take his talent across the moved to the talent across the country. He's been Infrastructure and Water portfolio. moved to the Regional Development, It's been revealed that Australian special forces troops were special forces troops were involved in last month's action against the Taliban in last month's massive military in southern Afghanistan. The action against the Taliban in Marjah chief Angus Houston says Australia in southern Afghanistan. The Defence will play an even greater role in

next campaign to push the Taliban will play an even greater role in th of Kandahar. The ACT Government next campaign to push the Taliban ou of Kandahar. The ACT Government is slowly moving of the territory's liquor slowly moving ahead with its overhau fees for larger venues that stay changes include increased licensing

late at night, limits on cheap drink promotions, and restricted trading fees for larger venues that stay ope

hours. ABS figures out

ACT's population is predicted to hours. ABS figures out today show th

double to almost 700,000 by 2051. Over the last year, an extra Over the last year, an extra 6,000 people now people now call Canberra home. To Canberra's weather - mostly

with a low of 13 and a high of Canberra's weather - mostly sunny Sydney 29, Melbourne 27, Adelaide 32. with a low of 13 and a high of 29.

More news in an hour. Sydney 29, Melbourne 27, Adelaide 32