Returning: Catalyst

ABC’s long-running science series, Catalyst, returns next week.

The show, featuring Dr Graham Phillips, veterinary scientist, Dr Jonica Newby, tropical biologist Mark Horstman, medical researcher Dr Maryanne Demasi and palaeontologist Dr Paul Willis, celebrated its 10th anniversary last year.

ABC also promises “more than a few surprises” for the show this year.

Here’s what to expect in the first episode:
Square Kilometre Array
Australia is taking part in an international project to build the world’s most powerful radio telescope. Referred to as the Square Kilometre Array, it would stretch across a vast expanse of the West Australian desert, with a few dishes in other States and even as far flung as New Zealand! It will be 10,000 times more capable than present radio telescopes and will allow astronomers to look back to the birth of the very first stars. It’s also expected to shed light on the mysterious dark energy known as quintessence. Graham journeys to Murchison in the remote WA desert where the Australian team are constructing the first component of the array that they hope will win them the bid to host this ambitious international project.

Birth of Radio Astronomy
Catalyst takes a fun look at how the humble telephone contributed to the birth of radio astronomy.

Do Not Enter ococci
Surfing scientist Ruben Meerman loves the beach and will venture into the surf in most weather conditions. But just how safe is the beach after a heavy downfall? Stormwater drains in suburban areas carry many pollutants into waterways and onto our beaches, but enterococci, a bacteria found in the gut of both humans and animals, is the lurgy of most concern to water safety authorities. Ruben tests a sample of water from the beach to see just what lurks there after a deluge.

Snail Whisperer
Most people pass through their parks and gardens, and the bush, oblivious of the thousands of species of snails that exist in Australia. Jonica Newby goes into the rainforests of Queensland to meet taxonomist, Dr John Stanisic, who’s spent the best part of thirty years dedicated to promoting the charming Aussie snail.

Future Classroom
The traditional way of teaching subjects like grammar has been through text, but this simply doesn’t cut it with today’s ‘Net Age’ kids growing up in a media rich environment. Paul Willis goes into the classroom where students interpret poetry and stories to create their own computer animations.

Clever Crows
The New Caledonian crow is smarter even than its cheeky Aussie cousin. Not only does it have the ability to use tools, like sticks for foraging, it is also one of the very few non-human species known to manufacture and modify tools for the job.

It returns 8pm Thursday Februay 17th on ABC1.

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