Thursday, 28 February 2013

Today's Drivetime guest: local author Dave Weaver

On today's Drivetime show we had local author Dave Weaver in to talk about his short stories and books. His debut novel Jacey's Kingdom is available electronically on Amazon, Kobo and iTunes. Dave has always like alternate reality stories such as Wizard of Oz and is intrigued with St Albans Saxon/Celtic and Jacey's Kingdom is the end result.

Dave has been writing for 10 years, starting off in the Veralum Writer's Circle and entering short stories for competitions. One of his recent works is 'Flower Chain Stories' - he likes Japanese culture so wrote stories that English people could read and relate to. The 'Flower Chain' idea was to have minor characters from one story become major characters in the next. This was written 2 years ago and self published a year ago.

The next book is called a collection of parodies called 'Ha Bloody ha' which Dave says is selling well on kindle, as well as 'Short and Sour' a collection of stories with a bitter edge and a twist. Asked about the new electronic publishing culture, Dave thinks generally positively as books could only be self-published before - now you can do it on Amazon using their own software. This saves a lot of money from making hardbacks. The new hardback version of Jacey's Kingdom however is being launched at EasterCon on March 31st in Bradford, a Sci-Fi Fantasy conference.

A very busy Dave is working on a Fantasy Ghost novel and would like to develop his collection of Flower Chain stories into a full-length novel.Dave's advice for would-be novelists to take small steps with short stories before fully-fledged novels, practice is perfect.See all of Dave's work at:

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

KOVAK perform Live for Drive

'Britain's answer to Scissor Sisters' joined us in the studio for the third time this afternoon to talk to Danny about their music making process, upcoming album and future gigs.

Lead singer Annelies and guitarist and backing vocalist, Karl arrived in a flurry of Mars bar induced energy to play two songs live on air. The first was 'Killer Boots,' which has received national attention after being played on BBC Radio Two. The second was 'Towerblocks,' the spine tingling tones of which left Danny (almost) lost for words. 

The bands new single 'Radiate' is out now for your listening pleasure, and you can watch the video of them performing in woodland at night here..

KOVAK are playing various gigs this year, and hope to play in St Albans when they get the chance.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Interior Design with Gwendoline Arterton

We welcomed Gwendoline Arterton back to the studio for her first feature in 2013. Gwen was in to tell us about the latest colour trends. Last years colour schemes were orientated round a vibrant upbeat orange. This years colour is emerald green, which is more organic and gives an comforting ambiance that gives the impression of mental and economic well being.

Colours that work well with emerald green are dove grey and creamy beige. Other fantastic choices that would compliment emerald green included white (for a more modern look) or red (for energy). If you do choose to  emerald green and the darker colours, Gwen advised to maybe to use the colours in small amounts unless a your room has a lot of natural light.  

Emerald green looks very classy if you have more traditional furniture and art work. It's always popular to keep your room open and spacious and add detail with your darker colours. If you arrange you room in such a manner making your artwork a focal is great way to give focus to the room.  Floral designs and art work are currently very popular and come with a number of options. (Ditsy, bold and muted print.) You could also look for a vase or fabric for inspiration for print.

At this point Gwendoline got a bit technological and trekkie and told us about the future of interior designs with computer generated fabric. In future we will be able to scan and place our own pictures on fabric roller blinds and wall paper. This is currently a bit pricey for some but will be more accessible as time goes by. We look forward to the future of interior design and of course our next visit from Gwendoline Arterton. 

For more information you can go to her website by clicking on the following link

Or check her twitter account: 

Monday, 25 February 2013

Science Feature


Sam Rolfe was our guest this evening on Drivetime, one of the subjects Sam covered was Microbes on Mars;
For the first time, scientists find that microbes from Earth can survive and grow even in the mix of drastically low pressure, freezing temperatures and oxygen-starved conditions seen on Mars.

In recent years, scientists have discovered many life forms on Earth capable of surviving extremes of heat, cold, radiation, dryness, acidity and numerous other trying conditions. These "extremophiles" raise the possibility that alien life might dwell in similarly harsh environments on distant worlds.

However, until now, the lowest atmospheric pressure that researchers could grow bacteria in was just 25 millibars. Although that is a little more than 2 percent of the average 1,013-millibar atmospheric pressure seen at sea level on Earth, it still is nearly four times greater than the 7-millibar global average surface pressure of Mars.

To test the extremes to which life on Earth may prosper, microbiologists Wayne Nicholson and Andrew Schuerger at the University of Florida and their colleagues analyzed microbes found in four samples of permafrost soil collected from northeastern Siberia by the Soil Cryology Laboratory in Russia. The lab has collected permafrost on annual drilling expeditions via helicopter or boat to the Arctic and Antarctic for the past 30 years or so.

These microbes, recovered by boring 40 to 70 feet (12 to 21 meters) into frozen soil, were grown for up to 28 days in nutrient-rich lab dishes at room temperature and normal air and pressure. Roughly 10,000 colonies of these bacteria were then incubated for an additional 30 days in a chamber designed to simulate the surface of Mars, keeping them at a freezing temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius) without oxygen at a pressure of 7 millibars.

Twenty-six bacteria typically recovered from spacecraft were examined by researchers to see if they could grow under low pressure, temperature and oxygen conditions like those found on Mars. Plate A shows the control group grown under standard Earth pressure (1013 millibars) and oxygen and at 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Plate B shows the bacteria that can survive when temperature is dropped to freezing. Plate C shows the bacteria that survived with freezing temperature and no oxygen. Plate D shows bacterial growth at pressure as low as that on Mars (7 millibars), no oxygen and freezing temperature. Only one bacterium, Serratia liquefaciens, survived the harsh conditions. Arrows indicate locations of Serratia liquefaciens. Credit: Schuerger et al./University of Florida
Six colonies of bacteria grew under these severe conditions.

"For the first time, we know that at least some terrestrial microorganisms are capable of growth at the kind of pressure you find on Mars," Schuerger said.

Genetic analysis revealed these were all strains of bacteria that belonged to the genus Carnobacterium.

"Carnobacterium is naturally found in permafrost, and is also a common contaminant of frozen meat," Schuerger said. Nicholson, Schuerger and their colleagues Kirill Krivushin and David Gilichinsky detailed their findings online Dec. 24 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In a companion study, Schuerger, Nicholson and their colleagues investigated 26 strains of bacteria commonly found on spacecraft, incubating them under the same Mars-like conditions. They found one bacterium, Serratia liquefaciens, could survive and grow. While Carnobacterium is specialized to live in the cold, Serratia liquefaciens is a generalist that colonizes and proliferates in a wide range of ecosystems, from human skin and the respiratory systems of animals to soils, plant surfaces and both freshwater and marine environments.

"We show that even microorganisms that might not have specialized to live in harsh conditions might nevertheless persist on Mars, so in the future, researchers who want to learn more about life on other planets should not only look at extremophiles, but many non-extremophiles as well," Schuerger said. He, Nicholson and their colleagues Richard Ulrich and Bonnie Berry detailed their findings online Jan. 7 in the journal Astrobiology.

It remains uncertain why these microbes can survive and grow in extremely low-pressure conditions they would never naturally face at home. In fact, Carnobacterium apparently grew better without oxygen and low pressure than it did with oxygen and normal pressure.

"What we think is happening is that low pressure may be relaxing other inhibitions within the cells caused by low temperature or anoxic — low-oxygen — conditions," Schuerger said. "It appears that at low pressures, an unknown mechanism might kick in that helps them increase the range in which they can grow."

Growth of Carnobacterium isolates. Plate A shows growth with freezing temperatures and Earth pressure and atmosphere. Plate B shows growth with freezing temperatures, low oxygen and Earth pressure. Plate C shows growth with freezing temperatures, low pressure and low oxygen. Plate D shows the same plate as in C, but after one additional day of incubation on the laboratory bench (i.e., at room temperature, Earth atmospheric composition and pressure). Credit: Nicholson et al. /University of Florida
The researchers do caution that while they grew these bacteria under extremely low pressure, temperature and oxygen levels, "they were also grown in a wet, nutrient-rich environment," Schuerger said. "These are conditions that are very difficult to meet on the surface of current-day Mars."

For instance, if one were to imagine a 0 to 100 scale when it comes to how much moisture bacteria need to grow, the bacteria tested in both studies would generally require a 90, while Mars is by comparison a 10 or a 5. Even if there were carbon and nitrogen sources on Mars to act as nutrients, desiccation is always a threat due to the extreme aridity of the red planet's surface, Schuerger said. As such, these experiments do not perfectly match the actual conditions microbes on Mars would face.

Still, these findings "open up much more complex experiments that scientists would not have been able to tackle before because we did not know if anything could grow at 7 millibars," Schuerger said. "There are 17 'biocidal' factors on the surface of Mars that might kill microbes there, and now we can test more of these factors simultaneously in experiments, such as severely dry conditions and high salt concentrations, to see if these affect microbial growth."

Such research may also help scientists protect Mars from contamination by Earth bacteria.

"When we launch spacecraft to Mars, we want to make sure we don't contaminate landing sites," Schuerger said. "We want to make sure that any microbes that we detect on Mars are Martian microbes, not Earth bacteria."

Understanding the extremes in which Earth bacteria can grow could help design ways to sterilize spacecraft before they go to Mars, or to identify locations on Mars that are at the most risk of contamination.

The researchers will now look at metabolic processes and cellular functions in these bacteria to figure out how they can grow in these extreme conditions.

Can microbes survive on the surface of Mars? Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

"If we can understand the cellular mechanisms by which these organisms can grow under simulations of the Mars environment, this could give us clues as to how potential Martian life deals with its home environment," Schuerger said

"Hopefully a year from now, we'll have more answers," he added.

New Music Playlist w/c 25th February 2013 & Featured Track: Hello by Miss 600

Hi Drivetimers

Below is our new music playlist for the forthcoming week:

Arlissa - Sticks and Stones
Bastille - Pompeii
Bon Jovi - Because We Can
Bruno Mars - When I Was Your Man
Carrie Underwood - Before He Cheats
Dido - No Freedom
Jake Bugg - Lightning Bolt
Josephine - Portrait
Josh Groban - Brave
Little Big Town - Leavin In Your Eyes
Maroon 5 - Daylight
Mick Hucknall - Turn Back The Hands Of Time
Miss 600 - Hello
Mumford & Sons - Whispers In The Dark
Olly Murs - Army Of Two
P!nk Feat. Nate Ruess - Just Give Me A Reason
Paloma Faith - Black & Blue
Petula Clark - Cut Copy Me
Richard Hawley - Don’t Stare at the Sun
Robbie Williams - Be A Boy
Robert Cray Band - A Memo
Stereophonics - Indian Summer
Tim McGraw - Nashville Without You
Train - Mermaid
Tunde Baiyewu - Move

Items in BOLD are new additions

Our featured track for this week is Hello by Miss 600:

Friday, 22 February 2013

The Radio Verulam Film Guide - 22nd February 2013

Simon and Danny sat out tonight's Film Guide citing fatigue so Jonny Seabrook and Chris Aikman took over presenting duties. Sadly Jonny hasn't used the equipment in the studio for such a long time and he subsequently tried to stick a wet haddock where his headphones were meant to go. This lead to a small fire in the studio which Chris had to put out using Danny's limited edition, ultra-rare Eagles albums he keeps in the cupboard here at Radio Verulam. Hopefully he doesn't find out.....

Ok, that was a lie, but Chris was sitting in for Simon and Jonny had taken over from Danny for the evening and they discussed the UK box office and the Chris' pick of films on free-to-air TV in the coming week.

Three Kings
10:35pm – 12.40am

Dog Soldiers
11:05pm – 1:10am

Ocean’s Eleven
7:45pm – 10:00pm

11:10pm – 1:30am

9:00pm – 11:15pm

Tinlin on Drivetime!

Tonight we were joined in the studio by Tinlin, a musical duo comprised of brothers Alex and Rolf, and they performed a couple of their songs for us. They will be supporting Paul Carrack tonight at the Alban Arena and you can find out more about them at their website here.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Chris' Film Club: Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

Today we can say a very happy birthday to Alan Rickman, who is 67 years old! I've chosen a film that Danny and I disagreed on a tad (I say it's a bit rubbish, Danny thinks it's enjoyable hooey) but both of us can agree that Rickman steals the show. Of course it is his turn as the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham in Kevin Reynold's Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

The film stars a mulleted Kevin Costner as Robin, Morgan Freeman as his sidekick and Christian Slater as Will Scarlet but it is Rickman in a BAFTA winning role that makes the film bearable.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Chris' Film Club: In the Heat of the Night

Today is Sidney Poitier's 86th birthday! Sid doesn't make movies any more but when he did he sure could pick them. This film from 1967 sees his African-American homicide detective get mixed up in a murder investigation in the South. First the racist Southern police suspect him of the crime but once they come to understand that he is a man of authority they (begrudgingly) accept his help.

A great film that features one of the all-time classic lines from cinema history (you'll know it when you hear it), it stars Poitier, Rod Steiger (who won an Oscar for it), Warren Oates and Lee Grant.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Chris' Film Club: Pulp Fiction

Today we celebrate John Travolta's 59th birthday and so I've picked Quentin Tarantino's 1994 classic Pulp Fiction for the film club. The film sees several stories intertwine over the course of a day and really put Tarantino on the map. A classic soundtrack and sharp writing, combined with a strong ensemble cast, mean that this is a film that will be around for a very long time.

Elizabeth Crampton from St Albans Citizens Advice Bureau joined us this evening on the show, the subjects covered included;

The OFT has opened an investigation under the Enterprise Act 2002 into a number of companies that operate gym and fitness club chains or who provide management services to gyms. It is considering whether these companies are using or recommending unfair contract terms in breach of the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 and/or are engaging in any unfair business practices under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
The investigation is progressing but the OFT will not announce a final view on whether the law may have been infringed until it has completed its investigation. It should not be assumed that the parties involved have breached any consumer protection legislation.


Friday, 15 February 2013

The Radio Verulam Film Guide - 15th February 2013

Tonight saw the first Radio Verulam Film Guide in a month. I've just been sitting here typing blog posts for the entire time, because that is literally my only job here. Some of them were hilarious as well, but you'll never see them because they were very much 'of the time'. A day either side and they wouldn't have worked. However, write them I did and now I have carpal tunnel syndrome. My talent is wasted here.

Ok, that was a lie (I don't have any talent), but Simon was in the studio for the first time in ages to talk all about films. Simon and Danny (or Sanny as I like to call them) discussed the UK box office top 10 (including Lincoln, Flight and Life of Pi) and the best films on free-to-air TV in the coming week.

9.00pm – 11.15pm

The Birds
11.00pm – 1.25am

In the Valley of Elah
11.05pm – 1.00pm

The Book of Eli
9.00pm – 11.20pm

Once Upon A Time In America
11.10pm – 3.40am

The Magdalene Sisters
11.35pm – 1.30am

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Win tickets to see Rumours of Fleetwood Mac at the Alban Arena

On today's show I was joined by Allan Cosgrove from Rumours of Fleetwood Mac.  The band are returning to the Alban Arena on Thursday 7th March 2013 as part of a special tour commemorating 35 years since the prolific Fleetwood Mac album "Rumours" was released.

Allan is looking forward to returning with the band to the Alban Arena, a venue they have played in many times before.  Interest in Fleetwood Mac is bigger than ever, with the original band touring this year as well, for the first time in four years.

To hear the interview again, head over to where the show will be available for seven days after broadcast.

If you would like to win a pair of tickets to see Rumours of Fleetwood Mac at the Alban Arena on Thursday 7th March 2013, answer the following question:

Who is the drummer with Fleetwood Mac?

A:  Mick Jagger
B: Mick Fleetwood

To enter the competition click here.

For more information about Rumours of Fleetwood Mac, check our their website