Rough Science 6 - takes science to new heights

The new series of the Open University and BBC television programme Rough Science starts on Wednesday 2nd November 2005 on BBC TWO at 19:30. Filmed on location at an altitude of 3000m, viewers can have high expectations of top quality inspiring entertainment as the team tackle a series of physical and scientific obstacles head on.

For the sixth series of Rough Science, the team are based high in the peaks of Colorado in an old ore-processing mill. They are in the San Juan mountains part of the spectacular Rocky Mountain Range, an area rich in history, full of diverse plant and wildlife and providing plenty of inspiration and local resources.

How much we rely on nature and science becomes apparent as the scientists tackle their challenges with tenacious gusto. There is no state of the hi-tech laboratory here; the team must work together with limited tools and the natural resources at hand.

Four scientists, all with different areas of expertise, demonstrate a 'back to basics' approach and get their hands dirty as they rise to the challenges set for them. Viewers can watch their trials and tribulations with baited breath will they succeed?

The team this series includes Rough Science regular, chemist Mike Bullivant who wastes no time in making himself a chemistry corner in the mill. He has many of the toughest challenges - making concentrated sulphuric acid out of rocks, creating an anti-perspirant from aluminium foil and bleach, and taking a photograph using local silver ore.

Jonathan Hare, a physicist and engineer, proves himself once again to be a creative genius who can build just about anything out of the most uncompromising of materials. Piles of junk around the mill are transformed into a water wheel, a washing machine and even a clock-work torch.

American botanist Ellen McCallie is on home ground here and makes the most of the rich bio-diversity of the region. She taps into native American knowledge to find just the plants they need.

They are joined by earth scientist Hermione Cockburn who provides the geological knowledge that is essential for many of the challenges. She gets to travel the furthest of all the team in the hunt for minerals that can be transformed into the vital ingredients.

Each of the six episodes demonstrates how we can use science to make the most of our environment without the modern equipment and luxuries we take for granted.

New Rough Science Six scientist Hermione Cockburn, 32, who is also an Associate Lecturer with the Open University in Scotland and a tutor on the Environmental Science course said

"What made working on Rough Science so fantastic is that I got to use natural resources in many of the challenges. Our location in Colorado was a dream destination for an earth scientist like me because everything from coal to silver was close by and being so high up in the San Juan mountains meant the scenery was stunning. I challenge anyone not to be inspired by their richness and beauty."

To support the new series The Open University has produced a set of 'Survival Science Cards' that viewers can request free of charge. These cards provide methods for performing home experiments using everyday household products. Subjects include how to generate electricity, make water safe for drinking, to making your own sun block and mosquito repellent. Details of how to obtain the 'Survival Science Cards' can be found onscreen at the end of every episode.

Sally Crompton, Head of the Open Broadcast Unit said: "Television is a great medium to demonstrate that science is challenging, fun and accessible to everyone. Filming from some of the most amazing locations in the world, working with the elements and using the local resources available sees a return to the grass roots of science. "

"It visibly demonstrates how scientists can be innovative and conduct experiments using whatever means are available to them. The Open University has funded Rough Science as we are committed to bringing quality, fun, yet informative programmes to prime time television and making them accessible to a wide range of audiences."

Long standing Rough Science presenter Kate Humble, has presented a variety of science and wildlife programmes, satisfying her love of the natural world. Facing the elements on this latest Rough Science series shouldn't faze Kate, a seasoned traveller, too much. Previous jobs found her working as a safari driver and on a crocodile farm before she found her true vocation as a TV presenter.

Media contact: Anne-Marie Hamill, +(44) 1908 655026

Academic contacts:
Peter Taylor,, 01908 652512
James Bruce,, 01908 654171

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Dr Jonathan Hare, The University of Sussex
Brighton, East Sussex. BN1 9QJ.

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