This Way Up for 5 September 2015: Part 1

Mars missions and DNA discovery.

Missions to Mars

Putting someone onto Mars is likely to happen in the 2030s according to NASA. But the privately funded commercial space sector, backed by technology entrepreneurs like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, looks likely to manage it a lot sooner than that. So why the quest to get to Mars, and what's the rush of getting people to live there?

Stephen Petranek considers these and other questions in his book How We'll Live on Mars.

Cracking the Genetic Code

More than 60 years ago Francis Crick and James Watson, with the help of Rosalind Franklin and New Zealander Maurice Wilkins, first described the structure of the molecule that we now know as DNA.

The double helix, a bit like a twisted ladder, has become a symbol for life, and underpins so many of today's discoveries in fields like biology and medicine. Matthew Cobb is a professor of Zoology at the University of Manchester.

In his book Life's Greatest Secret: The Race to Crack the Genetic Code he tells the fascinating story of the privately funded groups working on the challenge of discovering and then deciphering the code.

This Way Up for 5 September 2015: Part 2

Technology news, pesticides and antibiotic resistance, and Val McDermid's study of forensic science.

Tech news: Fishpond, wireless charging

Peter Griffin

Peter Griffin Photo: Supplied

Technology news with Peter Griffin. The online retailer Fishpond gets a big fine for selling illegal electronics, and a tech giant pushes to make our homes and offices truly wireless.

Herbicides and antibiotic resistance

Dr Brigitta Kurenbach

Dr Brigitta Kurenbach Photo: Supplied

The problem of antibiotic resistance is typically portrayed as a problem of overuse and overprescription. Over the past decade there's been a surge in antibiotic use for both humans and livestock, and it's this that's seen as the primary explanation for why bacteria develop antibiotic resistance. But could there be other, environmental factors at play?

Dr Brigitta Kurenbach and Dr Jack Heinemann from the School of Biological Sciences at University of Canterbury have been researching the effects of using common garden weedkillers on bacteria. They've discovered that bacteria become more resistant to antibiotics in the presence of herbicides.

Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime

Val McDermid

Val McDermid Photo: Mimsy Moller.

The Scottish crime writer Val McDermid has sold more than 10 million books around the world. Her latest book is a study of the history and science of forensics; those tiny clues from DNA to specks of pollen that betray where we've been and what we've done while we've been there.

Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime is published by Profile Books and Wellcome Collection.