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The week ahead

Foresight

Saturday 22 January Magnetic Storm Unusual changes to the earth's magnetic field have caused concern among scientists. This Discovery premiere considers how drastic the consequences might be.

Discovery Channel, 8pm Monday Geronimo The Beeb's answer to Scrapheap Challenge - but with less scrap. This week teams are asked to build a beach digger and a triple-jumping machine - whatever that is - the sort of thing that needs to be seen to be fully understood. Budding inventors for the series range from professional engineers to enthusiastic amateurs.

BBC2, 6.30pm Tuesday A Man And a Can The story of Charles Douglass, the CBS television engineer who in 1953 invented the 'Laff Box' and provided the world of entertainment with what became known as canned laughter. A mixed blessing, indeed.

BBC Radio 4, 11.30am Wednesday Samovars of Bodmin During the 1950s a small number of National Servicemen were sent to Cornwall to learn Russian in preparation for a possible war with the Soviets. It might sound like a prime example of Cold War silliness ripe for comedy treatment, readers, but many of those selected went on to greater things. Some became acclaimed writers - Dennis Potter, Alan Bennett, Michael Frayn and Jack Rosenthal to name but a few. Former Bank of England governor Eddie George, a famous writer of cheques, was there too. John Sargeant tells the story of the Joint Services School Of Linguists.

BBC Radio 4. 11am Building The Ultimate:Stadium Looks at the construction techniques used in building the latest state of the art stadiums.

Discovery Channel, 9.30pm Thursday Material World An 'auxetic' material gets fatter when stretched and thinner when compressed and is found in cow's udders, salamander skin and some mineral ores. How does science intend to make use of these properties- Quentin Cooper talks to the man who coined the term: Professor Ken Evans of Exeter University.

BBC Radio 4, 4.30pm Exhibition In association with the RIBA, the Victoria & Albert Museum recently opened a gallery dedicated to architecture. The collection of models, drawings and manuscripts claims to be the most comprehensive in the world. It may well solve some of the riddles that have baffled engineers since the dawn of time. Who first wore a black polo neck sweater and when did goatees become fashionable?

V&A South Kensington, Cromwell Road London, SW7 2RL (0207) 942 2000 www. vam. ac. uk

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