Nature Podcast

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Subscribers: 3084
Reviews: 8


 Sep 12, 2021

Anders
 Jul 13, 2020


 Apr 25, 2020
Concise, well designed and engaging.


 Aug 6, 2019


 Jan 4, 2019
Written well, edited well, and good content. The journalists can explain the science to a general audience.

Description

The Nature Podcast brings you the best stories from the world of science each week. We cover everything from astronomy to zoology, highlighting the most exciting research from each issue of Nature journal. We meet the scientists behind the results and providing in-depth analysis from Nature's journalists and editors.


Episode Date
Coronapod: How has COVID impacted mental health?
00:11:52

Studying mental health in populations is not a simple task, but as the pandemic has continued, mounting concerns have mobilised researchers.

Now, researchers have used data from helplines in 20 countries to assess the impacts that COVID, as well as associated political and public health measures like financial assistance programs and lockdowns, have had on mental health. Contrary to expectations, loneliness and concerns about the impacts of the pandemic drove most of the callers, rather than imminent threats such as suicidal thoughts or abuse.


News: Millions of helpline calls reveal how COVID affected mental health


Omicron

We will be discussing Omicron in an upcoming Coronapod on 17 December. If you would like to ask any questions of our reporters about Omicron, please get in touch on Twitter: @naturepodcast or email: podcast@nature.com


News: How bad is Omicron? What scientists know so far

News: Omicron is supercharging the COVID vaccine booster debate

News: Omicron-variant border bans ignore the evidence, say scientists


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Dec 03, 2021
What’s the best diet for people and the planet?
00:26:43

Designing a nutritious and planet-friendly diet, and an AI that guides mathematicians.


In this episode:

00:46 Designing a healthy diet for the planet

Researchers are trying to develop diets that help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while at the same time providing nutrition. Some of these sustainable diets are now being tested to see if they work in local contexts without damaging livelihoods.


Feature: What humanity should eat to stay healthy and save the planet


08:24 Research Highlights

How jellyfish get by without a centralised brain, and reading the runes within a medieval lead amulet.


Research Highlight: How jellyfish control their lives

Research Highlight: Neutron beam sheds light on medieval faith and superstition


10:32 The AI guiding mathematicians’ intuition

Finding relationships between two seemingly unrelated groups of objects is an important part of some branches of mathematics. To help speed up this process, a new AI has been developed, which points mathematicians towards potential relationships, allowing them to come up with new conjectures.


Research article: Davies et al.

News and Views: Artificial intelligence aids intuition in mathematical discovery


11:23 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, a pendant made from mammoth tusk, and developing lab-grown fish for food.


Nature News: Is this mammoth-ivory pendant Eurasia’s oldest surviving jewellery?

Nature Biotechnology: No bones, no scales, no eyeballs: appetite grows for cell-based seafood


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Dec 01, 2021
Audio long-read: The chase for fusion energy
00:22:39

A host of private companies are promising commercial fusion reactors in the next decade.


After decades of promise, it finally seems that nuclear fusion is approaching commercial viability. Companies around the world are securing huge amounts of funding, and advances in materials research and computing are enabling technologies other than the standard designs to be pursued.


This is an audio version of our feature: The chase for fusion energy

 

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Nov 29, 2021
Coronapod: everything we know about the new COVID variant
00:09:26

In a quickly developing story a new variant, first detected in Botswana, is triggering rapid action among researchers. The variant - currently named B.1.1.529 has more than 30 changes to the spike protein - and the concern is that these mutations may result in increased transmissibility, severity of disease or even antibody evasion.


In this episode of Coronapod, we discuss what we know so far, how scientists are searching for answers and what this could mean for the pandemic.


News: Heavily mutated coronavirus variant puts scientists on alert

 

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Nov 26, 2021
Researcher careers under the microscope: salary satisfaction and COVID impacts
00:22:34

The Nature salary and satisfaction survey reveals researchers' outlook, and NASA’s test of planetary defences.


In this episode:

00:45 Salary and satisfaction survey

Like all aspects of life, scientific careers have been impacted by the pandemic. To get an insight into how researchers are feeling, Nature has conducted a salary and satisfaction survey. We hear from some of the respondents.


Careers Feature: Stagnating salaries present hurdles to career satisfaction


09:07 Research Highlights

The physics of a finger snap, and the surprisingly strong silk of jumping spiders.


Research Highlight: It’s a snap: the friction-based physics behind a common gesture

Research Highlight: High-speed spinning yields some of the toughest spider silk ever found


11:23 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, the plans to smash a spacecraft into an asteroid, and how baby formula is changing to better resemble breast milk.


Nature News: NASA spacecraft will slam into asteroid in first planetary-defence test

Chemistry World: The science of breast milk and baby formula


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Nov 24, 2021
Sea squirts teach new lessons in evolution
00:24:37

Spineless sea squirts shed light on vertebrate evolution, and an iodine-fuelled engine powering a satellite in space.


In this episode:

00:45 A story of sea squirts, ancient vertebrates and missing genes

When a PhD student set out to study the developmental pathways of a strange sea creature, he hoped to shed light on the origins of vertebrate animals. Instead, researchers found themselves investigating a strange case of missing genes. We hear why gene loss could be a more significant factor in evolutionary processes than was previously thought.


Research article: Ferrández-Roldán et al.


08:17 Research Highlights

The unusual crystal that gives a beetle its glittering green sheen, and the genetics of a fish’s 200 year lifespan.


Research Highlight: Weird crystal makes beetle a living jewel

Research Highlight: Some of Earth’s longest-lived fish show how to reach extreme ages


10:43 An iodine-fuelled engine for satellites

In space, many satellites use xenon-fuelled ‘electric propulsion systems’ to maneuver. However, xenon is rare and requires high-pressure storage systems, so researchers have been working to develop alternative fuels. This week, a team publish details of the first in-space test of an iodine-powered electric propulsion system, which they say has many advantages over xenon systems.


Research article: Rafalskyi et al


16:37 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, issues aboard the Hubble Space Telescope, and what the discovery of a theorised mineral reveals about processes deep within the Earth.


Wired: NASA Tries to Save Hubble, Again

Nature: Diamond delivers long-sought mineral from the deep Earth


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Nov 17, 2021
Coronapod: new hope from COVID antiviral drugs
00:18:08

Two new anti-viral pills have been shown to be safe and effective against COVID in clinical trials, according to recent press releases. The drugs, molnupiravir, developed by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, and Paxlovid, developed by Pfizer both appear to significantly reduce hospitalisation in people with early COVID. Some researchers are quietly hopeful that these new weapons in the anti-COVID arsenal could have a big impact, in particular in parts of the world where vaccines are still not widely available, but there are a number of caveats. In this episode of Coronapod, we open the pill boxes and pick through the contents - asking how the drugs work, what side effects we might see and how, if at all, they might change the course of the pandemic.


News: COVID antiviral pills: what scientists still want to know


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Nov 12, 2021
The past and future of the Earth's climate
00:18:15

Reassessing 24,000 years of global temperatures, and on the ground at COP26.


In this episode:

01:21 Reassessing Earth’s climate over the past 24,000 years

The ~20,000 year period from the Last Glacial Maximum to the pre-industrial era saw huge changes to the Earth’s climate. But characterising how temperatures changed during this time has been difficult, with different methods producing different results. Now, a team have combined two techniques, which they hope will provide new insights into the past, and future, of Earth’s climate.


Research article: Osman et al.

News and Views: Global temperature changes mapped across the past 24,000 years


09:53 COP26 Briefing Chat

The United Nations’ climate change conference COP26 continues this week. In this special edition of the Briefing Chat, we head over to the conference to hear the latest on what’s been happening, and the measures being discussed to tackle future warming.


Collection: COP26: Inside the science

Video: Your COP26 questions answered: carbon capture


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Nov 10, 2021
Audio long-read: How dangerous is Africa’s explosive Lake Kivu?
00:20:17

Lake Kivu, nestled between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, is a geological anomaly that holds 300 cubic kilometres of dissolved carbon dioxide and 60 cubic kilometres of methane.

The lake has the potential to explosively release these gases, which could fill the surrounding valley, potentially killing millions of people.


Researchers are trying to establish the likelihood of such an event happening, and the best way to safely siphon the gases from the lake.


This is an audio version of our feature: How dangerous is Africa’s explosive Lake Kivu?

 

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Nov 08, 2021
Podcast special: onboard the climate train to COP26
00:19:46

Last weekend, hundreds of young people boarded a specially chartered train in Amsterdam to travel to Glasgow ahead of the United Nations COP26 climate summit.


Among them were scientists, activists and policy makers. In a Nature Podcast special, we boarded the train to catch up with some of them - to talk about their science, their motivations and their message.


News: All aboard the climate train! Scientists join activists for COP26 trip


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Nov 03, 2021
China’s COVID vaccines have been crucial — now immunity is waning
00:15:01

More that 3 billions doses of China's CoronaVac and Sinopharm vaccines have been administered across the globe, playing an especially important role in Latin America and South East Asia, as well as China. These vaccines use inactivated virus particles to expose the immune system to Sars-CoV-2, but they do not appear to generate the same levels of neutralising antibodies as other vaccine platforms such as those based on mRNA. Now studies are suggesting that this protection may be waning more quickly than with other vaccines, which has sparked a conundrum - in many countries the only vaccines available are CoronaVac or Sinopharm. In this episode of Coronapod we ask how researchers are trying to get a handle on what is going on and how they might adapt to counteract waning immunity from these crucial vaccines.


News: China’s COVID vaccines have been crucial — now immunity is waning


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Oct 29, 2021
Genomics unwraps mystery of the Tarim mummies
00:27:52

The unexpected origins of a 4000-year-old people, protecting your ‘digital presence’ and what to expect from COP26.


In this episode:

00:48 The origins of the mysterious Tarim mummies

For decades there has been debate about the origins of a group of 4000-year-old individuals known as the Tarim Basin mummies. Their distinct appearance and clothing has prompted scientists to hypothesise they had migrated from the North or West. Now, a team of researchers have used modern genomics to shed new light on this mystery and reveal that migration was not the mummies’ origin.


Research article: Zhang et al.

News and Views: The unexpected ancestry of Inner Asian mummies


08:59 Research Highlights

Making wood mouldable, and how ancient snakes diversified their diets.


Research Highlight: Moulded or folded, this wood stays strong

Research Highlight: Finicky no more: ancient snakes ate their way to success


11:09 How a regular ‘digital-hygiene’ check can protect your reputation

Attaching a researcher’s name to a paper without them knowing is an unscrupulous practice that can have serious repercussions for the unwitting academic. To prevent this, computer scientist Guillaume Cabanac is advocating a once-a-month ‘digital-hygiene’ check, to identify incorrect acknowledgements, and help prevent research malpractice.


World View: This digital-hygiene routine will protect your scholarship


18:51 What to expect from COP26

This week sees the start of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), with an estimated 20,000 people — including world leaders, scientists and activists — expected to be in attendance. Jeff Tollefson, senior reporter at Nature, joins us to explain what’s on the agenda for the conference.


News Explainer: COP26 climate summit: A scientists’ guide to a momentous meeting


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Oct 27, 2021
Coronapod: can scientists harness COVID super-immunity?
00:16:04

People that have recovered from COVID are seeing stronger immune responses after vaccination than those that never contracted the virus. Researchers are now racing to unpick what is behind this powerful 'hybrid immunity'. In this episode of Coronapod, we discuss a series of studies which are offering up some possibile explanations, and ask how this might inform publish health policy in the future. 


News: COVID super-immunity: one of the pandemic’s great puzzles


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Oct 25, 2021
Viking presence in the Americas pinpointed by ancient solar storm
00:34:57

An ancient solar storm helps pinpoint when Vikings lived in the Americas, and using magnets to deftly move non-magnetic metals.


In this episode:

00:53 Pinpointing Viking presence in North America

It’s well-understood that Vikings went to North America around a thousand years ago. However, working out a precise date has proven difficult. Now, thanks to an ancient solar storm, researchers have been able to identify an individual year when Vikings were definitely living on the continent.


Research article: Kuitems et al.


14:57 Research Highlights

How shoulder muscles gave Pterosaurs an aerodynamic edge, and mysterious radio waves coming from near the centre of the Milky Way.


Research Highlight: How ancient reptiles were streamlined for flight

Research Highlight: A mysterious radio signal object is beaming radio waves into the Milky Way


17:45 Magnets move non-magnetic metals

Scientists have created an array of magnets capable of moving non-metallic objects in 6 dimensions. They hope their new approach could one day be used to clean up debris in space.


Research article: Pham et al.

News and Views: Non-magnetic objects induced to move by electromagnets


27:06 What Francis Collin’s retirement means for the US NIH

After 12 years, Francis Collins announced plans to retire from his role as Director of the United States National Institutes of Health. We discuss his legacy and what this means for the world’s biggest public funder of biomedical research.


Editorial: COVID, racism, China: three tests for the next NIH leader

News: Francis Collins to step down at NIH: scientists assess his legacy


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Oct 20, 2021
Coronapod: the COVID scientists facing violent threats
00:17:15

Hundreds of scientists have responded to a survey asking about harassment and abuse during the pandemic. The results paint a picture which is as concerning as it is shocking. In this episode of Coronapod we discuss the kinds of abuse scientists are facing, try to pick apart where it is comes from and ask what can be done about it?


News Feature: ‘I hope you die’: how the COVID pandemic unleashed attacks on scientists


Careers feature: Real-life stories of online harassment — and how scientists got through it

Survey data table


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Oct 18, 2021
How electric acupuncture zaps inflammation in mice
00:25:37

The neurons behind acupuncture’s effect on inflammation, and how antibiotics affect gut bacteria.


In this episode:

00:54 The neuronal basis for acupuncture’s effect on inflammation

In mice, electroacupuncture has been shown to reduce inflammation, but only when certain points on the body are stimulated. Why this is has puzzled scientists, but now, researchers have identified the specific neurons that are involved. They hope that this knowledge could be used in future to help treat certain inflammatory-related diseases.


Research article: Liu et al.

News and Views: Electroacupuncture activates neurons to switch off inflammation


07:28 Research Highlights

The Aztec origins of an obsidian ‘spirit mirror’, and the damage done by a Soviet plutonium complex.


Research Highlight: A ‘spirit mirror’ used in Elizabeth I’s court had Aztec roots

Research Highlight: Cold-war spy pictures reveal a Soviet nuclear ‘cloud generator’


10:18 Assessing antibiotics’ collateral damage.

Antibiotics are known to cause damage to the communities of bacteria that live in our guts. To better understand why this happens, a team has mapped the effects that different antibiotics have on individual gut-bacteria species, which may offer new insights into preventing this collateral damage.


Research article: Maier et al.


17:32 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, the latest species to be declared extinct in the US, and a potential planet that orbits three stars.


New York Times: Protected Too Late: U.S. Officials Report More Than 20 Extinctions

New York Times: This May Be the First Planet Found Orbiting 3 Stars at Once


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Oct 13, 2021
Coronapod: new data affirms the benefits of air filters and masks
00:10:30

New data suggests that inexpensive, high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters can effectively scrub SARS-CoV-2 particles from the air in hospital COVID wards. The result validates previous studies carried out in controlled conditions. Currently, HEPA filters are not routinely used in hospital settings, but researchers suggest they could could help mitigate the risk of tramission of airborne viruses.

In addition a new study has demonstrated the effectiveness of mask wearing, with surgical masks proving more effective than those made of cloth. The trial, which involved 350,000 participants in Bangladesh, is the latest in a long line of studies demonstrating mask efficacy - but this is the first randomised control trial of its kind. We ask if this gold-standard trial will prove to be the final word on the effectiveness of masks.


News: Real-world data show that filters clean COVID-causing virus from air


News: Face masks for COVID pass their largest test yet


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Oct 10, 2021
The AI that accurately predicts the chances of rain
00:26:17

AI weather forecasters, mapping the human brain and the 2021 science Nobel prizes.


In this episode:

00:52 Improving the accuracy of weather forecasts with AI

Short-term rain predictions are a significant challenge for meteorologists. Now, a team of researchers have come up with an artificial-intelligence based system that weather forecasters preferred to other prediction methods.


Research article: Ravuri et al.


08:02 Research Highlights

The vaping robot that could help explain why some e-cigarettes damage lungs, and the sea-slugs that steal chloroplasts to boost egg production.


Research Highlight: This robot vapes for science

Research Highlight: Solar-powered slugs have a bright reproductive future


10:29 A map of the motor cortex

A group of researchers are undertaking an enormous task: to make a cellular atlas of the entire brain. This week, they publish a suite of papers that has accomplished this feat for one part of the brain — the motor cortex.


Research Article: BRAIN Initiative Cell Census Network

News and Views: A census of cell types in the brain’s motor cortex

Editorial: Neuroscientists make strides towards deciphering the human brain


17:58 Nobel News

Flora Graham from the Nature Briefing joins us to talk about the winners of this year’s science Nobels.


News: Medicine Nobel goes to scientists who discovered biology of senses

News: Climate modellers and theorist of complex systems share physics Nobel

News: ‘Elegant’ catalysts that tell left from right scoop chemistry Nobel


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Oct 06, 2021
Starting up in science: behind the scenes
00:23:40


Starting up in science: behind the scenes


In this bonus episode, the four Nature reporters behind Starting up in science discuss how the project came about, what it was like to follow two scientists for three years, and what the series has achieved.

 

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Sep 29, 2021
Starting up in science: Episode 4
00:18:14


Episode 4


Ali interviews for a critical grant. While she is waiting for the result, the pandemic throws their labs into chaos. Then comes a personal crisis.


Read a written version of Starting up in science

 

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Sep 29, 2021
Starting up in science: Episode 3
00:12:50

Episode 3


As newly-minted principal investigators, Ali and Dan have grand plans for their research – but science is slow, especially when other demands loom large: hiring staff, mentoring and teaching students and, of course, the race to secure funding.


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Sep 29, 2021
Starting up in science: Episode 2
00:12:42

Episode 2


Ali and Dan have landed positions as the heads of their very own labs. But how did they get to the starting line? Every scientist’s journey is different, and in this episode we hear Ali and Dan’s, which covers years, thousands of miles, and some very difficult decisions.


Read a written version of Starting up in science



 

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Sep 29, 2021
Starting up in science: Episode 1
00:10:45

Every year, thousands of scientists struggle to launch their own labs. For three years, a reporting team from Nature documented the lives of married couple Alison Twelvetrees and Daniel Bose as they worked to get their fledgling research groups off the ground.


Frustrations over funding, a global pandemic, and a personal trauma have made this journey anything but simple for Ali and Dan. Listen to their story in Starting up in science.


Episode 1


What does it take to start up in science? Meet two biologists fighting the odds to build their careers and break new ground. But their first priority is getting grants – without them, their labs might not stay afloat.


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Sep 29, 2021
Audio long-read: Can artificially altered clouds save the Great Barrier Reef?
00:15:39

Australian scientists are developing new technologies to help protect coral from climate change.


Earlier this year, a team of researchers used a mist-machine to artificially brighten clouds in order to block sunlight above Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The project is the world’s first field trial of marine cloud brightening and is among a number of techniques and technologies being developed to save the country’s reefs from the worst effects of climate change.


This is an audio version of our feature: Can artificially altered clouds save the Great Barrier Reef?

 

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Sep 27, 2021
Coronapod: solving the COVID vaccine manufacturing problem
00:20:30

Less than 1% of those in low income countries are fully vaccinated, and that number only rises to 10% in low-middle income countries. Meanwhile more than half of the population in wealthier countries have received a double dose with several now rolling out third dosess.


In this episode of Coronapod we look at the role of pharmaceutical manufacturers. Drug companies are facing increased pressure to partner with manufacturing firms in the global south but most are reluctant to relinquish control. We ask what needs to change to help address the global disparity in vaccine access.


News: The fight to manufacture COVID vaccines in lower-income countries

 

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Sep 25, 2021
The floating sensors inspired by seeds
00:19:16

How tiny seed-like sensors could monitor the environment, and the latest from the Nature Briefing.


In this episode:


00:45 Spinning seeds inspire floating electronics

Researchers have developed miniature electronic-chips with wings that fall like seeds, which could be a new way to monitor the environment.


Research article: Kim et al.

Video: Seed-inspired spinners ride the wind and monitor the atmosphere


06:02 Research Highlights

How humans can adjust to an energy-efficient walking pace almost without thinking, and the viral shell that excels at delivering genome-editing tools.


Research Highlight: Humans walk efficiently even with their heads in the clouds

Research Highlight: A CRISPR fix for muscles hatches from a viral shell


08:34 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, the mystery of the Sun’s super-hot corona, and the latest efforts to toilet-train cows.


Physics World: The enduring mystery of the solar corona

The Guardian: Cows ‘potty-trained’ in experiment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

 

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Sep 22, 2021
How to help feed the world with 'Blue Foods'
00:22:24

How aquatic foods could help tackle world hunger, and how Australian wildfires spurred phytoplankton growth in the Southern Ocean.


In this episode:


00:45 The role of aquatic food in tackling hunger

Ahead of the UN’s Food Systems Summit, Nature journals are publishing research from the Blue Food Assessment, looking at how aquatic foods could help feed the world's population in a healthy, sustainable and equitable way.


We speak to Ismahane Elouafi, Chief Scientist at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, who tells us about the role of blue foods in future food systems.


Immersive feature: Blue Foods

Nature's Blue Food collection


12:27 Research Highlights

The ingestible capsule that injects drugs straight into stomach tissue, and a soft material that changes colour when twisted.


Research Highlight: An easily swallowed capsule injects drugs straight into the gut

Research Highlight: Flowing crystals for quick camouflage


14:52 How Australian wildfires spurred phytoplankton blooms

The devastating Australian wildfires of 2019-2020 released plumes of iron-rich aerosols that circled the globe, fertilizing oceans thousands of miles away. New research suggests that these aerosols ultimately triggered blooms of microscopic phytoplankton downwind of the fires, in the Southern Ocean.


Research Article: Tang et al.

 

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Sep 15, 2021
The billion years missing from Earth’s history
00:13:32

A new theory to explain missing geological time, the end of leaded petrol, and the ancient humans of Arabia.


In this episode:

 

00:29 Unpicking the Great Unconformity

For more than 150 years, geologists have been aware of ‘missing’ layers of rock from the Earth’s geological record. Up to one billion years appear to have been erased in what’s known as the Great Unconformity. Many theories to explain this have been proposed, and now a new one suggests that the Great Unconformity may have in fact been a series of smaller events.


BBC Future: The strange race to track down a missing billion years


05:23 The era of leaded petrol is over

In July, Algeria became the final country to ban the sale of leaded petrol, meaning that the fuel is unavailable to buy legally anywhere on Earth. However despite this milestone, the toxic effects of lead petrol pollution will linger for many years to come.


Chemistry World: Leaded petrol is finally phased out worldwide


08:26 The ancient humans who lived in a wetter Arabia

While much of modern day Arabia is covered by deserts, new research suggests that hundreds of thousands of years ago conditions were much wetter for periods on the peninsula. These lusher periods may have made the area a key migratory crossroads for ancient humans.


Research Article: Groucutt et al.

News and Views: Traces of a series of human dispersals through Arabia


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Sep 08, 2021
Dead trees play an under-appreciated role in climate change
00:29:53

How insects help release carbon stored in forests, and the upcoming biodiversity summit COP 15.


In this episode:


00:44 Fungi, insects, dead trees and the carbon cycle

Across the world forests play a huge role in the carbon cycle, removing huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But when those trees die, some of that carbon goes back into the air. A new project studies how fast dead wood breaks down in different conditions, and the important role played by insects.


Research Article: Seibold et al.


09:37 Research Highlights

Massive stars make bigger planets, and melting ice moves continents.


Research Highlight: Why gassy planets are bigger around more-massive stars

Research Highlight: So much ice is melting that Earth’s crust is moving


12:04 The UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity

After several delays, the fifteenth Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, is now slated to take place next year. Even communicating the issues surrounding biodiversity loss has been a challenge, and reaching the targets due to be set at the upcoming meeting will be an even bigger one.


Editorial: The scientific panel on biodiversity needs a bigger role 


19:32 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, cannibal cane toads and a pterosaur fossil rescued from smugglers.


Nature News: Australia’s cane toads evolved as cannibals with frightening speed

Research Highlight: A plundered pterosaur reveals the extinct flyer’s extreme headgear 

National Geographic: Stunning fossil seized in police raid reveals prehistoric flying reptile's secrets


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Sep 01, 2021
Audio long-read: why sports concussions are worse for women
00:13:55

As women’s soccer, rugby and other sports gain in popularity a growing body of evidence suggests that female athletes are at a greater risk of traumatic brain injury than men - what's more they tend to fare worse after a concussion and take longer to recover. Now researchers are racing to get to the bottom of why and ask how treatment might need to change.


This is an audio version of our feature: Why sports concussions are worse for women

 

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Aug 25, 2021
Coronapod: How Delta is changing the game
00:13:58

Delta has quickly become the dominant COVID variant in many countries across the world, in this episode we ask why. Over the past few weeks, a slew of studies have started to shed more light on how the Delta variant differs from its cousins and even the mechanisms behind its rampant spread. We dig into studies on the epidemiology and molecular biology of Delta to ask some key questions surrounding its transmissibility, lethality and what all this might mean for vaccine roll outs.


News: The mutation that helps Delta spread like wildfire


News: COVID vaccines protect against Delta, but their effectiveness wanes 


News: How do vaccinated people spread Delta? What the science says


News: Delta coronavirus variant: scientists brace for impact


News: Delta’s rise is fuelled by rampant spread from people who feel fine


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Aug 21, 2021
What’s the isiZulu for dinosaur? How science neglected African languages
00:32:38

A team is creating bespoke words for scientific terms in African languages, and the sustainability of the electric car boom.


00:46 Creating new words for scientific terms

Many words that are common to science have never been written in some African languages, or speakers struggle to agree what the right term is. Now a new project aims to change that, by translating 180 research papers into six languages spoken by millions of people across the continent of Africa.


News: African languages to get more bespoke scientific terms


11:48 Research Highlights

A rainbow of biodegradable inks derived from brown seaweed, and the enormous centipede that preys on baby birds.


Research Highlight: From drab to dazzling: seaweed yields sparkling coloured inks

Research Highlight: The giant centipede that devours fluffy baby seabirds


13:58 How sustainable is the electric car boom?

As electric cars become more ubiquitous, manufacturers will have to up the production of batteries needed to power them. But that begs the question - can they be mass produced in a sustainable way?


News Feature: Electric cars and batteries: how will the world produce enough?


24:06 Briefing chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, how a tusk-based ‘chemical GPS’ revealed details of a mammoth’s enormous journeys , and why the Perseverance rover’s first efforts to collect a Mars rock sample didn’t go according to plan.


Nature: Mammoth’s epic travels preserved in tusk

Nature: Why NASA’s Mars rover failed to collect its first rock core


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Aug 18, 2021
Coronapod: COVID boosters amidst global vaccine inequity
00:18:34

Several wealthy nations have announced plans to give third vaccine doses in a bid to help increase the protection of their most vulnerable citizens - but the science is not clear on whether this strategy will be effective or indeed necessary. Meanwhile with limited vaccine supplies - billions around the world still have no access to vaccines at all. In this episode of Coronapod we discuss the science of boosters, the stark reality of vaccine disparity and what this means for the future of the pandemic.


News: COVID boosters for wealthy nations spark outrage


News feature: COVID vaccine boosters: the most important questions


Coronapod: the inequality at the heart of the pandemic


Coronapod: the biomarker that could change COVID vaccines


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Aug 14, 2021
The brain cells that help animals navigate in 3D
00:25:58

Researchers uncover how grid cells fire in a 3D space to help bats navigate, and a fabric that switches between being stiff and flexible.


In this episode:

00:47 Mapping a bat’s navigation neurons in 3D

Grid cells are neurons that regularly fire as an animal moves through space, creating a pattern of activity that aids navigation. But much of our understanding of how grid cells work has involved rats moving in a 2D plane. To figure out how the system works in a 3D space, researchers have mapped the brain activity of bats flying freely around a room.


Research Article: Ginosar et al.


07:44 Research Highlights

How a ‘toxin sponge’ may protect poison dart frogs from themselves, and the world’s oldest known coin foundry has been found.


Research Highlight: An absorbing tale: poison dart frogs might have a ‘toxin sponge’

Research Highlight: Found: the world’s oldest known mint and its jumbo product


09:59 A flexible fabric that transforms from soft to rigid (and back again)

Researchers have created a ‘tunable’ fabric, inspired by medieval chainmail, that when compressed changes from flexible to rigid. The stiffened structure can hold 30 times its own weight, and the team behind it suggest this material could be used to build temporary shelters or have medical applications.


Research article: Wang et al.


16:33 Stark warning from the IPCC’s latest report


This week the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its long awaited report detailing compiling the latest climate science data. Nature’s Jeff Tollefson joins us to discuss the report and the warnings it contains for our warming world.


News: IPCC climate report: Earth is warmer than it’s been in 125,000 years


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Aug 11, 2021
Coronapod: Ivermectin, what the science says
00:12:41

Ivermectin is a cheap, widely available, anti-parasitic drug that has been proposed by many as a possible treatment for COVID-19. Dozens of trials have been started, but results have been far from clear, with inconsistent results further confused by high profile paper retractions. Nonetheless many countries have recommended the use of Ivermectin, despite WHO advice to the contrary.


Now a group of researchers have found suspect data in another influential paper which claimed a Ivermectin caused a 90% reduction in fatality. The paper, published at the end of 2020, has since been withdrawn pending investigation. In this episode of Coronapod we ask what this might mean for Ivermectin, and what's next for the controversial drug.



Correction: at 2:53 when discussing two discredited studies, we mistakenly say that the papers say "both drugs worked really well". In fact, this retracted study from the Lancet claimed that the drug hydroxychloroquine caused harm. We apologise for any confusion. More information on the scandal surrounding these papers can be found here.


News:Flawed ivermectin preprint highlights challenges of COVID drug studies


News: Latin America’s embrace of an unproven COVID treatment is hindering drug trials


Coronapod: The Surgisphere scandal that rocked coronavirus drug research


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Aug 06, 2021
Flood risk rises as people surge into vulnerable regions
00:31:25

Satellite imaging has shown population increases are 10x higher in flood prone areas than previously thought, and a new way to introduce fairness into a democratic process.


In this episode:

00:47 Calculating how many people are at risk of floods.

Researchers have used satellite imagery to estimate the number of people living in flood-prone regions. They suggest that the percentage of people exposed to floods has increased 10 times more than previously thought, and with climate change that number is only set to climb.


Research Article: Tellman et al.

News and Views: The fraction of the global population at risk of floods is growing


09:41 Research Highlights

People are happy to be selfish towards a crowd, but generous to an individual; and how wildfire smoke affects clouds’ brightness.


Research Highlight: ‘Robber’ experiment tests generosity — with sobering results

Research Highlight: Wildfire smoke creates brighter clouds — and weather changes


12:01 Making democracy fairer

Citizens’ assemblies are small groups of people invited to come together to help inform and affect policy decisions. But deciding who is in these groups is a mathematical challenge — the process needs to be random, but still reflect social demographics. This week, researchers describe a new algorithm that could offer a solution.


Research article: Flanigan et al.

News and Views: A bridge across the democracy–expertise divide


20:04 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, how ships could spread a deadly coral disease, and research shows that female scientists are less likely to be cited in elite medical journals.


The Guardian: Deadly coral disease sweeping Caribbean linked to water from ships

Nature News: Fewer citations for female authors of medical research


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Aug 04, 2021
Has the world’s oldest known animal been discovered?
00:23:11

Researchers debate whether an ancient fossil is the oldest animal yet discovered, and a new way to eavesdrop on glaciers.


In this episode:

01:04 Early sponge

This week in Nature, a researcher claims to have found a fossil sponge from 890-million-years-ago. If confirmed, this would be more than 300-million-years older than the earliest uncontested animal fossils but not all palaeontologists are convinced.


Research Article: Turner


10:13 Research Highlights

A caffeine buzz appears to improve bees’ memory, and reconstructing an Iron Age man’s final meal.


Research Highlight: A caffeine buzz gives bees flower power

Research Highlight: The guts of a ‘bog body’ reveal sacrificed man’s final meal


12:34 Eavesdropping on a glacier’s base

We hear about one researcher’s unorthodox attempt to listen in to the seismic-whisper at the foot of a Greenland glacier – a method that might reveal more about conditions under these enormous blocks of ice.


Research Article: Podolskiy et al.


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Jul 28, 2021
Audio long-read: How ancient people fell in love with bread, beer and other carbs
00:23:59

Archaeological evidence shows that ancient people ate carbs, long before domesticated crops.


While the idea that early humans subsisted mainly on meat persists, archaeologists are increasingly understanding that ancient people have actually long been in love with carbs, even before the advent of agriculture.


This is an audio version of our feature: How ancient people fell in love with bread, beer and other carbs

 

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Jul 26, 2021
Coronapod: the latest on COVID and sporting events
00:15:18

Early in 2021 the United Kingdom, along with several other countries, allowed mass gatherings as part of a series of controlled studies aimed at better understanding the role events could play in the pandemic. The goal was to inform policy - however early results have provided limited data on viral transmission. 


As the Olympic games kick off in Tokyo, we delve into the research, asking what the limitations have been, if more data will become available and whether policy makers are likely to take the findings into account in the future.


News: COVID and mass sport events: early studies yield limited insights

News: Why England’s COVID ‘freedom day’ alarms researchers

Podcast: Coronapod: does England's COVID strategy risk breeding deadly variants?


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Jul 24, 2021
How the US is rebooting gun violence research
00:26:31

Funding for gun violence research in the US returns after a 20-year federal hiatus, and the glass sponges that can manipulate ocean currents.


In this episode:


00:45 Gun violence research is rebooted

For 20 years there has been no federally-funded research on gun violence in the US. In 2019, $25 million a year was allocated for this work. We speak to some of the researchers that are using these funds, and the questions they are trying to answer about gun violence.


News Feature: Gun violence is surging — researchers finally have the money to ask why

Podcast: Stick to the science


09:21 Research Highlights

Strategic laziness and yak dung help pikas survive harsh winters, and how food gets wasted in China’s supply chains.


Research Highlight: Pikas in high places have a winter-time treat: yak poo

Research Highlight: China wastes almost 30% of its food


11:40 How a sea sponge controls ocean currents

Venus’ flower baskets are marine sponges that live at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. These sponges have an unusual glass skeleton that helps them gather food, and even appears to control ocean currents.


Research Article: Falcucci et al.

News and Views: Fluid flow through a deep-sea sponge could inspire engineering designs


18:55 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, investment in non-human primate facilities, and the European Union's latest climate plan.


Nature News: The US is boosting funding for research monkeys in the wake of COVID

BBC News: EU unveils sweeping climate change plan


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Jul 21, 2021
Coronapod: Does England's COVID strategy risk breeding deadly variants?
00:20:37

The UK government has announced that virtually all COVID restrictions will be removed in England on Monday 18th July. This will do away with social distancing requirements, allow businesses to re-open to full capacity and remove legal mask mandates. This decision comes, however, amidst soaring infections rates in the country, driven by the delta variant.


Now scientists are questioning the wisdom of this policy and asking whether the combination of high transmission and a partially vaccinated population could provide the perfect breeding ground for vaccine-resistant variants - a possibility which could have devastating global consequences.


News: Why England’s COVID ‘freedom day’ alarms researchers

 

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Jul 16, 2021
How deadly heat waves expose historic racism
00:36:53

Why heat waves disproportionately impact minorities in US cities, and the researcher that critiqued his whole career on Twitter.


In this episode:

00:45 How heat waves kill unequally

Researchers are beginning to unpick how historic discrimination in city planning is making the recent heat waves in North America more deadly for some than others.


News Feature: Racism is magnifying the deadly impact of rising city heat


11:59 Research Highlights

A graphene layer can protect paintings from age, and a new and endangered species of ‘fairy lantern’.


Research Highlight: A graphene cloak keeps artworks’ colours ageles

Research Highlight: Newfound ‘fairy lantern’ could soon be snuffed out forever


14:25 Self-criticism

When researcher Nick Holmes decided to criticise his past papers, in 57 tweets, he found the reflection enlightening. Now he’s encouraging other researchers to self-criticise, to help speed scientific progress.

World View: I critiqued my past papers on social media — here’s what I learnt


20:53 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, Richard Branson’s commercial space flight, and the Maori perspective on Antarctic conservation.


The Washington Post: Richard Branson and his Virgin Galactic crew are safely back from space, ushering in a new era

The New York Times: The Maori Vision of Antarctica’s Future (intermittent paywall)


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Jul 14, 2021
Coronapod: Will COVID become a disease of the young?
00:10:11

For much of the pandemic, the greatest burden of disease has been felt by older generations. But now, for the first time, vaccine roll outs are starting to skew the average age of those infections towards the young. This has led many researchers to ask what this might mean for the future of the pandemic. In this episode of Coronapod we discuss what we know and what we don't know about this change in the demographic profile of COVID infections. We ask how this might impact global vaccination efforts, disease transmission and the health and wellbeing of young people.


News: Will COVID become a disease of the young?


News: How kids’ immune systems can evade COVID


Podcast: Coronapod: counting the cost of long COVID


Podcast: Coronapod: Kids and COVID vaccines


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Jul 09, 2021
Food shocks and how to avoid them
00:29:27

Addressing the problem of sudden food scarcity in US cities, and the up-and-coming field of computational social science.


In this episode:


00:45 Food shocks

Climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and geopolitical crises can cause food shortages. To tackle this issue, Alfonso Mejia and colleagues have modelled how to best mitigate these food shocks in US cities. Alfonso tells us about the new analyses and what steps cities could take in the future.


Research Article: Gomez et al.

News and Views: How to buffer against an urban food shortage


06:07 Research Highlights

A tiny lattice can withstand the impacts of projectiles at twice the speed of sound, and the neurons that allow humans to perceive time.


Research Highlight: Supersonic strikes leave just a dent in this super-light material

Research Highlight: The ‘time neurons’ that help the brain keep track


08:25 Computational Social Science

Big data is transforming research, and social science is no exception. This week, Nature is running a special issue on ‘computational social science’. We catch up with some of the editors involved to find out more about this up-and-coming field.


Collections: Computational Social Science


19:27 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, discovering the dazzling diversity of viruses, and how China eradicated malaria.


Nature News Feature: Beyond coronavirus: the virus discoveries transforming biology

Science: It’s official: China has eliminated malaria


Nature Videos

Diabetes in sub-Saharan Africa

Why leaky pipes can be better for moving water

The artificial pancreas: a bridge to a cure


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Jul 07, 2021
Coronapod: the biomarker that could change COVID vaccines
00:15:04

Since the beginning oft he pandemic, researchers have searched for a biomarker which indicates immune protection from COVID-19 known as a correlate of protection. Now, the team developing the Oxford–AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine have published the first results of their so-called 'breakthrough study' which indicated puts forwards thresholds of neutralising antibodies that they suggest correlate with protection. The hope is that, should these results be confirmed, such biomarkers could speed up the development of new vaccines, and provide better ways to monitor the efficacy of tweaked vaccine aimed at fighting variants.


News: Scientists identify long-sought marker for COVID vaccine success


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Jul 02, 2021
The scientist whose hybrid rice helped feed billions
00:26:11

A historian reflects on the life of Chinese crop scientist Yuan Longping, and the possible influence of geothermal energy production on earthquake aftershocks.


In this episode:


00:46 Remembering Yuan Longping

Yuan Longping, one of China’s most famous scientists, died in May at the age of 90. Known as the ‘father of hybrid rice’, we reflect on his life and the impact of his research, which helped feed billions of people.


Obituary: Yuan Longping (1930–2021)


09:55 Research Highlights

The ancient and incredibly well-preserved beetle found in dinosaur poo, and a 5,000 year old, less transmissible strain of plague bacteria.


Research Highlight: A piece of Triassic poo yields a beautifully preserved beetle

Research Highlight: A hunter-gather’s bones yield the oldest known strain of plague


12:14 Geothermal power and earthquake aftershocks

In 2019, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake rippled through California, except – according to some researchers – at the site of a geothermal power plant. Now, a paper in Nature tries to understand why.


Research paper: Im et al.


16:47 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, the new skull fossils that might expand the human family tree, and a new estimate of the age of an ancient ‘living fossil’.


Nature News: Mysterious skull fossils expand human family tree — but questions remain

Science: This ‘living fossil’ could reach 100 years old


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Jun 30, 2021
Audio long-read: How COVID exposed flaws in evidence-based medicine
00:22:06

A deluge of trials has stress-tested the systems that produce evidence.


Around the world, researchers have raced to test therapies to treat COVID-19. The speed and urgency of this task has revealed both the weaknesses in the collection and use of research-based evidence, and how well-run trials have helped save lives.


This is an audio version of our feature: How COVID broke the evidence pipeline

 

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Jun 28, 2021
Coronapod: should you have a COVID vaccine when breastfeeding?
00:11:30

Early vaccine trials did not include pregnant or breastfeeding people which left some people asking whether COVID vaccines are safe and effective for those who are breastfeeding. The latest data suggests that they are and in this episode of Coronapod we dig into the questions scientists have been asking. Could the vaccine make it into breastmilk? Can COVID antibodies be transferred to a breastfeeding child? And if so, how?


News Feature: COVID vaccines and breastfeeding: what the data say


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Jun 25, 2021
Quantum compass might help birds 'see' magnetic fields
00:27:40

Researchers isolate the protein thought to allow birds to sense magnetic fields, and astronomers pinpoint the stars that could view Earth as an exoplanet.


In this episode:


00:45 Homing in on the molecule that helps birds find their way.

How migratory birds sense magnetic fields is a long standing mystery in sensory biology. Now researchers have isolated a molecule, found within the eyes of these birds, which might act as a compass using quantum mechanics.


Research paper: Xu et al.


07:28 Research Highlights

How spending time on land boosts the brainpower of amphibious fish, and the neural pathway of sneezing has been revealed.


Research Highlight: Amphibious fish get smart — by working out on land

Research Highlight: How the brain makes us go ‘Achoo!’


09:52 Exoplanet Earth

Astronomers have catalogued almost 2,000 stars from which the Earth could be detected passing in front of the Sun. The team suggest that these stars would be good targets to search for planets that could harbour life.


Research Article: Kaltenegger & Faherty


18:46 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, the unexpected science kicked up by the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars, and how science is embracing the world of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).


Nature News: Mars helicopter kicks up ‘cool’ dust clouds — and unexpected science

Nature News: How scientists are embracing NFTs


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Jun 23, 2021
CureVac disappoints in COVID vaccine trial
00:13:29

After a slew of wildly successful vaccine trials, this week marked a more underwhelming result. The third mRNA vaccine to complete phase three trials, developed by CureVac, is just 47% effective at staving off disease according to preliminary data. This is a stark contrast with previous mRNA vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer BioNtec which returned around twice that efficacy in their trials. In this episode of Coronapod, we ask why the CureVac vaccine has faltered, and what this might mean for the future of the pandemic and mRNA vaccine development.


News: CureVac COVID vaccine let-down spotlights mRNA design challenges

News Feature: How COVID unlocked the power of RNA vaccines


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Jun 18, 2021
Communities, COVID and credit: the state of science collaborations
00:30:35

The pros and pitfalls of collaboration, with insights from researchers and beyond.


This week, Nature has a special issue on collaborations, looking at the benefits to science and society that working together can bring. In this collaboration-themed edition of the podcast, we’re joined by Nature’s David Payne to discuss the issue, and the state of research collaborations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.


In this episode:


02:49 How are research collaborations changing?

To answer the biggest questions, research teams are coming together in larger numbers than ever before. But the scientific enterprise hasn’t been set up to support or reward team efforts. We look at how funding systems and methods for giving research-credit need to adapt, to match the reality of modern science.


Feature: How the COVID pandemic is changing global science collaborations

Careers Feature: The authorship rows that sour scientific collaborations

Careers Feature: ‘We need to talk’: ways to prevent collaborations breaking down


16:45 Community-research collaborations

In order to do research that can help communities, scientists need to develop relationships with community members. Creating these bonds can be fraught with difficulty, so we examine how to make them work using the example of Flint, Michigan in the US.


Comment: Community–academic partnerships helped Flint through its water crisis


Nature Video: China and the UK: Making an international collaboration work

Take Nature’s 2021 International Salary and Job Satisfaction Survey


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Jun 16, 2021
Coronapod: Counting the cost of long COVID
00:10:46

The global burden of COVID-19 has predominantly been measured using metrics like case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths. But the long term health impacts are more difficult to capture. In this episode of Coronapod we discuss one way that public health experts are trying to get to grips with the problem using metrics such as disability adjusted life years (DALYs) and quality adjusted life years (QALYs).


As new data suggests that COVID could leave millions with lasting disability or ill-health, we ask how changing the lens through which we asses the impacts of COVID could change public health policies, the perception of risk and even the behaviour of individuals.


News Feature: The four most urgent questions about long COVID


Comment: Count the cost of disability caused by COVID-19


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Jun 11, 2021
Google AI beats humans at designing computer chips
00:25:38

An AI that designs computer chips in hours, and zooming in on DNA’s complex 3D structures.


In this episode:


00:46 An AI computer microchip designer

Working out where to place the billions of components that a modern computer chip needs can take human designers months and, despite decades of research, has defied automation. This week, however, a team from Google report a new machine learning algorithm that does the job in a fraction of the time, and is already helping design their next generation of AI processors.


Research Article: Mirhoseini et al.

News and Views: AI system outperforms humans in designing floorplans for microchips

Editorial: Google is using AI to speed up microchip design — a welcome advance that must be handled with care


07:00 Research Highlights

The blood proteins that may help assess cardiovascular fitness, and how the rock-hard teeth of a mollusc could inspire stronger 3D-printed materials.


Research Highlight: How fit can you get? These blood proteins hold a clue

Research Highlight: The surprise hidden in the teeth of the ‘wandering meatloaf’


09:47 Zooming in on the 3D structure of DNA

In order to switch genes on, DNA often needs to twist up into complex 3D shapes, bringing distant parts of a genome together. Understanding precisely which sections come into contact has been difficult, but now a new technique is helping to reveal them at an individual base-pair level.


Research paper: Hua et al.


15:22 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, the missing sections from the human genome sequence that have now been filled, and NASA announces two missions to Venus.


Stat: Researchers claim they have sequenced the entirety of the human genome — including the missing parts

National Geographic: NASA will head to Venus for first time in roughly 30 years


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Jun 09, 2021
Coronapod: Uncertainty and the COVID 'lab-leak' theory
00:16:25

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been allegations that SARS-CoV-2 could have originated in a Chinese lab. A phase one WHO investigation concluded that a 'lab-leak' was "extremely unlikely" and yet, the theory has seen a resurgence in recent weeks with several scientists wading into the debate.


In this episode of Coronapod, we delve into what scientists have been saying and ask how and why the 'lab-leak' hypothesis has gained so much traction. We ask if the way we communicate complex and nuanced science could be fuelling division, and what the fallout could be for international collaboration on ending the pandemic.


News: Divisive COVID ‘lab leak’ debate prompts dire warnings from researchers


Science: Investigate the origins of COVID-19


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Jun 04, 2021
On the origin of numbers
00:18:04

The cross-discipline effort to work our how ancient humans learned to count.


In this episode:


00:45 Number origins

Around the world, archaeologists, linguists and a host of other researchers are trying to answer some big questions – when, and how, did humans learn to count? We speak to some of the scientists at the forefront of this effort.


News Feature: How did Neanderthals and other ancient humans learn to count?


07:47 Research Highlights

How sea anemones influence clownfish stripes, and how skin-to-skin contact can improve survival rates for high-risk newborns.


Research Highlight: How the clownfish gets its stripes

Research Highlight: Nestling skin-to-skin right after birth saves fragile babies’ lives


09:48 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, an upper limit for human ageing, and could tardigrades survive a collision with the moon?


Scientific American: Humans Could Live up to 150 Years, New Research Suggests

Science: Hardy water bears survive bullet impacts—up to a point


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Jun 02, 2021
New hope for vaccine against a devastating livestock disease
00:20:49

A vaccine candidate for a neglected tropical disease, and calls to extend the 14-day limit on embryo research.


In this episode:


00:46 A vaccine candidate for an important livestock disease

African animal trypanosomiasis is a parasitic disease that kills millions of cattle each year, affecting livelihoods and causing significant economic costs in many sub-Saharan countries. Developing a vaccine against the disease has proved difficult as the parasite has a wealth of tricks to evade the immune system. This week however, a team of researchers have created a vaccine candidate that shows early promise in mice.


Research Article: Autheman et al.


08:27 Research Highlights

A tapeworm infection helps worker ants live longer (at a cost), and how humanity’s shift to farming influenced plant-life in pre-industrial times.


Research Highlight: Tapeworm infestation gives lowly ants long life

Research Highlight: Our radical changes to Earth’s greenery began long ago — with farms, not factories


11:21 New guidelines for stem cell research

For the first time since 2016, the International Society for Stem Cell Research has updated its guidelines for biomedical research involving human embryos. We discuss the rapid advances in the field over the past five years, and how the new guidelines have had to change to keep pace with them.


News: 14-day limit on growing human embryos in lab dropped by advisory body


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May 26, 2021
Audio long-read: How harmful are microplastics?
00:21:20

Scientists are trying to figure out whether these pervasive plastic specks are dangerous.


Wherever they look – from the bottom of oceans to the top of mountains – researchers are uncovering tiny specks of plastic, known as microplastics.


Scientists are trying to understand the potential impacts of ingesting these pervasive plastics but early results are ambiguous, as some experiments might not reflect the diversity of microplastics that exist in the real world.


This is an audio version of our feature: Microplastics are everywhere — but are they harmful?

 

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May 24, 2021
The 'zombie' fires that keep burning under snow-covered forests
00:17:25

Smouldering fires lay dormant before bursting back into flame in spring.


In this episode:



00:56 The mysterious overwintering forest fires

Researchers have shown that fires can smoulder under snow in frozen northern forests before flaring up the following spring. Understanding how these so-called ‘zombie’ fires start and spread is vital in the fight against climate change.


Research Article: Scholten et al.


07:39 Research Highlights

Aesthetic bias means pretty plants receive the most research attention, and ancient tooth gunk reveals the evolution of the mouth microbiome.


Research Highlight: Flashy plants draw outsize share of scientists’ attention

Research Highlight: Microbes in Neanderthals’ mouths reveal their carb-laden diet


10:04 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, Voyager 1 detects a faint interstellar ‘hum’, and a trove of Neanderthal bones found in an Italian cave.


Reuters: Faraway NASA probe detects the eerie hum of interstellar space

The Guardian: Remains of nine Neanderthals found in cave south of Rome

Video: Hawaii’s surprise volcanic eruption: Lessons from Kilauea 2018

 

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May 19, 2021
Coronapod: The variant blamed for India's catastrophic second wave
00:08:36

Over the past few weeks, India has been experiencing a devastating second wave of COVID-19, recording hundreds of thousands of new cases a day.


Evidence is growing that a new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus known as B.1.617, first detected in India in October, may be driving this wave.


On this week’s Coronapod we talk about the race to learn more about B.1.617, with early results suggesting it may be more transmissible and could cause more severe disease.


News: Coronavirus variants are spreading in India — what scientists know so far

 

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May 14, 2021
The brain implant that turns thoughts into text
00:26:26

A new neural interface lets people type with their mind, and a crafting journey into materials science.


In this episode:


00:45 A brain interface to type out thoughts


Researchers have developed a brain-computer interface that is able to read brain signals from people thinking about handwriting, and translate them into on-screen text. The team hope this technology could be used to help people with paralysis to communicate quicker than before.


Research Article: Willett et al.

News and Views: Neural interface translates thoughts into type

Video: The BCI handwriting system in action


07:37 Research Highlights

Light-sensitive cells help headless worms ‘see’ with their bodies, and a wearable device that monitors itchiness.


Research Highlight: How headless worms see the light to steer

Research Highlight: How itchy are you? A new device knows precisely


10:26 The science of everyday materials

Materials scientist Anna Ploszajski joins us to talk about her new book Handmade, which details how her journey into craft helped shape her materials research.


Book review: From spoons to semiconductors — we are what we make


18:26 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, the genomes of some viruses that contain a very unusual DNA nucleobase, and the smouldering nuclear reactions that remain in the wreckage of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.


Nature: Weird viral DNA spills secrets to biologists

Science: ‘It’s like the embers in a barbecue pit.’ Nuclear reactions are smoldering again at Chernobyl

 

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May 12, 2021
Coronapod: Waiving vaccine patents and coronavirus genome data disputes
00:20:41

In surprise news this week, the US government announced its support for waiving patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines, in an effort to boost supplies around the world.As fewer than 1% of people living in low-income countries have received COVID-19 vaccines, it is hoped that this move is a major step towards addressing this inequity by allowing manufacturers to legally produce generic versions of vaccines. We discuss the next steps that need to be taken to make this a reality, and why there is opposition to the plan.


Also on the podcast, we look at another aspect of coronavirus inequity: the sharing of genomic data. Around the world, researchers are racing to upload SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences to repositories, to help in the fight against the pandemic. One popular data repository, GISAID, requires users to sign in and acknowledge those whose data they analyse. Although a growing faction of scientists from wealthy nations are calling for the removal of gatekeeping requirements, scientists in the global south are pushing back, arguing that this will deprive them of credit and chances to participate in big-data analyses.


News: In shock move, US backs waiving patents on COVID vaccines


News: Why some researchers oppose unrestricted sharing of coronavirus genome data


News: Scientists call for fully open sharing of coronavirus genome data


Science: Coronavirus sequence trove sparks frustration


New York Times: Pfizer Reaps Hundreds of Millions in Profits From Covid Vaccine


Washington Post: Poor countries may not be vaccinated until 2024. Here’s how to prevent that.


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May 07, 2021
Oldest African burial site uncovers Stone Age relationship with death
00:19:39

The earliest evidence of deliberate human burial in Africa, and a metal-free rechargeable battery.


Listen to our mini-series ‘Stick to the Science’: when science gets political and vote for the show in this year’s Webby Awards.


In this episode:


00:44 Human burial practices in Stone Age Africa

The discovery of the burial site of a young child in a Kenyan cave dated to around 78 thousand years ago sheds new light on how Stone Age populations treated their dead.


Research Article: Martinón-Torres et al.

News and Views: A child’s grave is the earliest known burial site in Africa


09:15 Research Highlights

How warming seas led to a record low in Northwestern Pacific typhoons, and the Arctic bird that maintains a circadian rhythm despite 24 hour sunlight.


Research Highlight: Warming seas brought an eerie calm to a stormy region

Research Highlight: The world’s northernmost bird is a clock-watcher


11:35 A metal-free rechargeable battery

Lithium-ion batteries have revolutionised portable electronics, but there are significant issues surrounding their recyclability and the mining of the metals within them. To address these problems, a team of researchers have developed a metal-free rechargeable battery that breaks down to its component parts on demand.


Research Article: Nguyen et al.

 

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May 05, 2021
Coronapod special: The inequality at the heart of the pandemic
00:26:47

For more than a century, public health researchers have demonstrated how poverty and discrimination drive disease and the coronavirus pandemic has only reinforced this.


In a Coronapod special, Nature reporter Amy Maxmen takes us with her through eight months of reporting in the San Joaquin valley, a part of rural California where COVID's unequal toll has proven deadly.


News: Inequality's deadly toll


This piece was supported by grants from the Pulitzer Center and the MIT Knight Science Journalism fellowship.


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Apr 30, 2021
What fruit flies could teach scientists about brain imaging
00:17:48

Ultra-precise measurements connect brain activity and energy use in individual fruit-fly neurons.


Vote for our mini-series ‘Stick to the Science’: when science gets political in this year’s Webby Awards.


In this episode:



00:45 How brain cells use energy

A team of researchers have looked in individual fruit-fly neurons to better understand how energy use and information processing are linked – which may have important implications for future fMRI studies in humans.


Research Article: Mann et al.


07:04 Research Highlights

A tough but flexible material inspired by lobster underbellies, and research reveals that red meat consumption hasn't dropped since the 1960s.


Research Highlight: Material mimicking lobster belly cracks the code for toughness

Research Highlight: Meat lovers worldwide pay climate little heed


10:15 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, early results for a new malaria vaccine look positive, and researchers unearth the latest chapter in a long-running plant experiment.


Nature News: Malaria vaccine shows promise — now come tougher trials

BBC News: Malaria vaccine hailed as potential breakthrough

New York Times: One of the World’s Oldest Science Experiments Comes Up From the Dirt


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Apr 28, 2021
Audio long-read: How drugmakers can be better prepared for the next pandemic
00:18:52

Despite warnings, and a number of close calls, drugmakers failed to develop and stockpile drugs to fight a viral pandemic. Now, in the wake of SARS-CoV-2, they are pledging not to make the same mistake again.


Around the world, researchers are racing to develop drugs to target COVID-19, but also broad-spectrum antivirals that could be used to treat future viral threats.


This is an audio version of our feature: The race for antiviral drugs to beat COVID — and the next pandemic

 

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Apr 26, 2021
Coronapod: Kids and COVID vaccines
00:16:17

As COVID-19 vaccine roll-outs continue, attentions are turning to one group: children. While research suggests that children rarely develop severe forms of COVID-19, scientists still believe they could play a key role in transmission and a plan needs to be in place for the longer term. But clinical trials in children are more complicated than those in adults as different ethical and practical concerns need to be taken into account.


In this episode of Coronapod, we discuss the ongoing clinical trials to test vaccines in young children, and ask what scientists want to know about safety, and how effective these vaccines might be at preventing disease and transmission.


News: COVID vaccines and kids: five questions as trials begin

 

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Apr 23, 2021
Meet the inflatable, origami-inspired structures
00:26:09

The self-supporting structures that snap into place, and how a ban on fossil-fuel funding could entrench poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.


In this episode:




00:45 Self-supporting, foldable structures

Drawing inspiration from the art of origami, a team of researchers have demonstrated a way to design self-supporting structures that lock into place after being inflated. The team hope that this technique could be used to create arches and emergency shelters that can be quickly unfolded from flat with minimal input.


Research Article: Melancon et al.

News and Views: Large-scale origami locks into place under pressure

Video: Origami-inspired structures could be deployed in disaster zones


07:32 Research Highlights

Nocturnal fluctuations cause scientists to underestimate rivers’ carbon emissions, and the ‘island rule’ of animal size-change is seen around the world.

Research Highlight: Rivers give off stealth carbon at night

Research Highlight: Animals around the world follow the ‘island rule’ to a curious fate


09:55 Banning fossil-fuel funding will not alleviate poverty

A ban by wealthy nations on the funding of overseas fossil-fuel projects would do little to reduce the world’s climate emissions and much to entrench poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, argues economist Vijaya Ramachandran.


World View: Blanket bans on fossil-fuel funds will entrench poverty


17:17 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, the first powered flight on another world, and estimating how many Tyrannosaurus rex ever lived.

News: Lift off! First flight on Mars launches new way to explore worlds

Video: Flying a helicopter on Mars: NASA’s Ingenuity

News: How many T. rex ever existed? Calculation of dinosaur’s abundance offers an answer


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Apr 21, 2021
Coronapod: could COVID vaccines cause blood clots? Here's what the science says
00:18:19

Reports of rare and unusual blood clots have resulted in several vaccine roll outs being paused while scientists scramble to work out if the vaccines are responsible and if so how.


The unusual combination of symptoms, including a low platelet count and clots focussed in the abdomen or brain, seems similar to a rare side effect from treatment with the drug blood thinning drug Heparin - however it is not clear how the vaccines could cause the syndrome.


In this episode of Coronapod we discuss the latest theories and ask how scientists are trying to get to the bottom of this important question. Medical regulators maintain that the benefits of these vaccines significantly outweigh the risks. But as uncertainty spreads, we ponder the wider implications of these reports, including the public perception of risk.


News: How could a COVID vaccine cause blood clots? Scientists race to investigate


Coronapod: How to define rare COVID vaccine side effects


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Apr 16, 2021
The sanitation crisis making rural America ill
00:18:40

The lack of adequate sanitation in parts of the rural US, and physicists reassess muons’ magnetism.


In this episode:


00:45 How failing sanitation infrastructure is causing a US public health crisis

In the US, huge numbers of people live without access to adequate sanitation. Environmental-health advocate Catherine Coleman Flowers tells us about her new book looking at the roots and consequences of this crisis, focusing on Lowndes County, Alabama, an area inhabited largely by poor Black people, where an estimated 90% of households have failing or inadequate waste-water systems.


Book review: Toilets – what will it take to fix them?


07:56 Research Highlights

Why adding new members to the team can spark ideas, and how manta rays remember the best spots for pampering.


Research Highlight: Want fresh results? Analysis of thousands of papers suggests trying new teammates

Research Highlight: What manta rays remember: the best spots to get spruced up


10:13 Reassessing muons’ magnetic moment


A decade ago, physicists measured the ‘magnetic moment’ of the subatomic muon, and found their value did not match what theory suggested. This puzzled researchers, and hinted at the existence of new physics. Now, a team has used a different method to recalculate the theoretical result and see if this discrepancy remains.


Research Article: Fodor et al.

News: Is the standard model broken? Physicists cheer major muon result


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Apr 14, 2021
Coronapod: A whistle-blower’s quest to take politics out of coronavirus surveillance
00:21:51

Rick Bright exposed former president Trump's political meddling in the US COVID response. Now he is championing a new privately funded initiative to track viral spread and combat new variants. 


We discuss the challenges of collecting data on a rapidly spreading virus, from transmission dynamics to genomic surveillance. We also ask why a veteran government scientist like Bright, the ex-director of the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, would take a new path in the private sector.


News Q&A: Pandemic whistle-blower: we need a non-political way to track viruses

News: Why US coronavirus tracking can’t keep up with concerning variants


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Apr 09, 2021
Audio long-read: Rise of the robo-writers
00:23:45

In 2020, the artificial intelligence (AI) GPT-3 wowed the world with its ability to write fluent streams of text. Trained on billions of words from books, articles and websites, GPT-3 was the latest in a series of ‘large language model’ AIs that are used by companies around the world to improve search results, answer questions, or propose computer code.


However, these large language model are not without their issues. Their training is based on the statistical relationships between the words and phrases, which can lead to them generating toxic or dangerous outputs.


Preventing responses like these is a huge challenge for researchers, who are attempting to do so by addressing biases in training data, or by instilling these AIs with common-sense and moral judgement.


This is an audio version of our feature: Robo-writers: the rise and risks of language-generating AI

 

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Apr 06, 2021
Coronapod: How to define rare COVID vaccine side effects
00:12:57

From a sore arm to anaphylaxis, a wide range of adverse events have been reported after people have received a COVID-19 vaccine. And yet it is unclear how many of these events are actually caused by the vaccine. In the vast majority of cases, reactions are mild and can be explained by the body's own immune response. But monitoring systems designed to track adverse events are catching much rarer but more serious events. Now scientists need to work out if they are causally liked to the vaccine, or are just statistical anomalies - and that is not an easy task.


News: Why is it so hard to investigate the rare side effects of COVID vaccines?


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Never miss an episode: Subscribe to the Nature Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast app. Head here for the Nature Podcast RSS feed.


 

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Apr 02, 2021
Antimatter cooled with lasers for the first time
00:28:50

Laser-cooled antimatter opens up new physics experiments, and the staggering economic cost of invasive species.


In this episode:

00:44 Cooling antimatter with a laser focus

Antimatter is annihilated whenever it interacts with regular matter, which makes it tough for physicists to investigate. Now though, a team at CERN have developed a way to trap and cool antihydrogen atoms using lasers, allowing them to better study its properties.


Research Article: Baker et al.

News and Views: Antimatter cooled by laser light


09:27 Research Highlights

A dramatic increase in Arctic lightning strikes, and an acrobatic bunny helps researchers understand hopping.


Research Highlight: Rising temperatures spark boom in Arctic lightning

Research Highlight: Rabbits that do ‘handstands’ help to find a gene for hopping


11:53 Cost of invasion

Invasive alien species are organisms that end up in places where they don’t really belong, usually as a result of human activity. These species can cause loss of biodiversity and a host of damage to their new environments. This week, researchers estimate that the economic impact of invasive species to be over US $1 trillion.


Research Article: Diagne et al.


19:04 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, the physics that might explain how a ship blocked the Suez Canal, and a new insight into octopuses’ sleep patterns.


The Financial Times: The bank effect and the big boat blocking the Suez

Science: Octopuses, like humans, sleep in two stages


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Mar 31, 2021
Coronapod: the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID vaccine - what you need to know
00:19:07

Since the beginning of the pandemic the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been plagued by confusion and controversy. The vaccine has been authorised in over 100 countries, tens of millions of doses have been administered, and it has been demonstrated to be safe and effective. However, over the past few weeks the vaccine has again been in the headlines.

In this episode of Coronapod, we discuss all of these controversies and ask how they may the reputation of the vaccine, and what that could mean for roll-outs moving forward.


News: Latest results put Oxford–AstraZeneca COVID vaccine back on track


News: What scientists do and don’t know about the Oxford–AstraZeneca COVID vaccine


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Never miss an episode: Subscribe to the Nature Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast app. Head here for the Nature Podcast RSS feed.

 

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Mar 26, 2021
Network of world's most accurate clocks paves way to redefine time
00:27:57

A web of three optical atomic clocks show incredibly accurate measurements of time, and the trailblazing astronomer who found hints of dark matter.


In this episode:

00:44 Optical clock network

Optical atomic clocks have the potential to reach new levels of accuracy and redefine how scientists measure time. However, this would require a worldwide system of connected clocks. Now researchers have shown that a network of three optical clocks is possible and confirm high levels of accuracy.


Research Article: BACON collaboration

News and Views: Atomic clocks compared with astounding accuracy


08:55 Research Highlights

The possible downside of high-intensity workouts, and the robot with adaptable legs for rough terrain.


Research Highlight: Can people get too much exercise? Mitochondria hint that the answer is yes

Research Highlight: A motorized leg up: this robot changes its limb length to suit the terrain


11:26 Vera Rubin

Vera Rubin was an astronomer whose observations were among the first to show evidence of dark matter. At the time, female astronomers were a rarity, but Vera blazed the trial for future women in science.


Books Review: Vera Rubin, astronomer extraordinaire — a new biography


18:35 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, carbon cost of bottom trawling, and the fictional French researcher confounding metrics.


The Guardian: Bottom trawling releases as much carbon as air travel, landmark study finds

Science: Who is Camille Noûs, the fictitious French researcher with nearly 200 papers?


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Video: The quantum world of diamonds

 

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Mar 24, 2021
Coronapod: Why COVID antibody treatments may not be the answer
00:14:39

In the early days of the pandemic, researchers raced to identify the most potent antibodies produced by the immune system in response to SAR-COV-2 infection and produce them in bulk. The resulting ‘monoclonal antibodies’ have since been tested in a variety of settings as treatments for COVID-19.


But despite promising clinical trial results and several therapies having already been approved, antibody therapies have not yet played a large role in the fight against COVID-19. In this episode of Coronapod, we ask why.


News: COVID antibody treatments show promise for preventing severe disease


News: Antibody therapies could be a bridge to a coronavirus vaccine — but will the world benefit?


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Mar 19, 2021
The AI that argues back
00:22:43

A computer that can participate in live debates against human opponents.


In this episode:


00:43 AI Debater

After thousands of years of human practise, it’s still not clear what makes a good argument. Despite this, researchers have been developing computer programs that can find and process arguments. And this week, researchers at IBM are publishing details of an artificial intelligence that is capable of debating with humans.


Research Article: Slonim et al.

News and Views: Argument technology for debating with humans


10:30 Research Highlights

The sea slugs that can regrow their whole body from their severed head, and evidence of high status women in ancient Europe.


Research Highlight: Now that’s using your head: a sea slug’s severed noggin sprouts a new body

Research Highlight: A breathtaking treasure reveals the power of the woman buried with it


12:56 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, the next generation of gravitational wave detectors, and why 2020 was a record-breaking year for near-Earth asteroids.


Nature News: Record number of asteroids seen whizzing past Earth in 2020

Science: Giant gravitational wave detectors could hear murmurs from across universe


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Mar 17, 2021
Coronapod: COVID and pregnancy - what do we know?
00:13:06

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been many open questions about how COVID-19 could impact pregnant people and their babies – confounded by a lack of data.


But now, studies are finally starting to provide some answers. While it does seem that pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of hospitalisation, babies appear to be spared from severe illness in most cases.


In this week’s Coronapod we talk about these findings, and the questions that remain – including whether vaccines are safe to give to pregnant people.


News: Pregnancy and COVID: what the data say

 

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Mar 12, 2021
The smallest measurement of gravity ever recorded
00:29:56

Physicists examine the gravitational pull between two tiny masses, and how fossil lampreys could shake-up the field of vertebrate evolution.


In this episode:


00:47 Gravity, on the small scale

This week, researchers have captured the smallest measurement of gravity on record, by measuring the pull between two tiny gold spheres. This experiment opens the door for future experiments to investigate the fundamental forces of nature and the quantum nature of gravity.


Research Article: Westphal et al.

News and Views: Ultra-weak gravitational field detected


07:37 Research Highlights

Research shows that people often don’t know when a conversation should end, and the cuttlefish that show remarkable self control.


Research Highlight: How long should a conversation last? The people involved haven’t a clue

Research Highlight: Arms control: cuttlefish can pass the ‘marshmallow test’


10:18 Lamprey evolution

The larval stage of lamprey growth has long been thought to resemble the kind of early animal that all vertebrates evolved from. However, new research looking at the fossils of lamprey species suggests that this popular hypothesis may be incorrect.


Research Article: Miyashita et al.


17:38 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, glow-in-the-dark sharks, and scientists’ reflections on the nuclear industry 10 years on from Fukushima.


The Guardian: 'Giant luminous shark': researchers discover three deep-sea sharks glow in the dark

Nature Comment: Nuclear energy, ten years after Fukushima


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Video: Deep-sea soft robots

 

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Mar 10, 2021
Coronapod: COVID's origins and the 'lab leak' theory
00:18:12

Where did the SARS-CoV-2 virus come from? As a team of researchers from the WHO prepares to report on its investigation into the origins of the virus, we discuss the leading theories, including the controversial ‘lab leak' hypothesis.


Although there is no evidence to support it, the lab-leak idea remains popular among certain groups. Similar hypotheses were even touted about the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. We discuss why theories like this seem to gain traction.


News: ‘Major stones unturned’: COVID origin search must continue after WHO report, say scientists

News: Where did COVID come from? Five mysteries that remain

News: Can COVID spread from frozen wildlife? Scientists probe pandemic origins

 

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Mar 05, 2021
COVID, 2020 and a year of lost research
00:26:05

The pandemic's unequal toll on the research community, and a newly discovered mitochondria-like symbiosis.


In this episode:


00:48 The pandemic's unequal toll on researchers

Although 2020 saw a huge uptick in the numbers of research papers submitted, these increases were not evenly distributed among male and female scientists. We look at how this could widen existing disparities in science, and damage future career prospects.


Editorial: COVID is amplifying the inadequacy of research-evaluation processes


09:18 Research Highlights

How a parasite can make viral infections more deadly, and the first known space hurricane.


Research Highlight: Intestinal worms throw open the door to dangerous viruses

Research Highlight: The first known space hurricane pours electron ‘rain’


11:36 Energy without oxygen

Millions of years ago, a microscopic protist swallowed a bacterium and gained the ability to breathe nitrate. This relationship partially replaced the cell's mitochondria and allowed it to produce abundant energy without oxygen. This week, researchers describe how this newly discovered symbiosis works.


Research Article: Graf et al.

News and Views: A microbial marriage reminiscent of mitochondrial evolution


19:22 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, the weakening of the Gulf Stream, and a new satellite to monitor deforestation in the Amazon.


The Guardian: Atlantic Ocean circulation at weakest in a millennium, say scientists

Science: Brazil’s first homemade satellite will put an extra eye on dwindling Amazon forests


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Video: How to build a Quantum Internet

 

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Mar 03, 2021
Coronapod: Google-backed database could help answer big COVID questions
00:19:16

A repository with millions of data points will track immunity and variant spread.


To answer the big questions in the pandemic, researchers need access to data. But while a wealth has been collected, much of it isn’t collated or accessible to the people who need it.


This week sees the launch of Global.health, a database that aims to collate an enormous amount of anonymized information about individual COVID-19 cases.


On this week’s Coronapod we discuss how this database could help answer the biggest questions facing scientists right now, from variants to vaccines – could data change the game?


News: Massive Google-funded COVID database will track variants and immunity

News: Can COVID vaccines stop transmission? Scientists race to find answers

 

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Feb 26, 2021
The quark of the matter: what's really inside a proton?
00:26:22

The surprising structure of protons, and a method for growing small intestines for transplantation.


In this episode:


00:45 Probing the proton’s interior

Although studied for decades, the internal structure of the proton is still throwing up surprises for physicists. This week, a team of researchers report an unexpected imbalance in the antimatter particles that make up the proton.


Research Article: Dove et al.

News and Views: Antimatter in the proton is more down than up


07:08 Research Highlights

How an inactive gene may help keep off the chill, and Cuba’s isolation may have prevented invasive species taking root on the island.


Research Highlight: Impervious to cold? A gene helps people to ward off the chills

Research Highlight: Marauding plants steer clear of a communist-ruled island


09:48 A new way to grow a small intestine

Short Bowel Syndrome is an often fatal condition that results from the removal of the small intestine. Treatment options are limited to transplantation, but donor intestines are hard to come by and can be rejected by the body. Now researchers may have developed a method to grow a replacement small intestine using stem cells and a small section of colon.


Research Article: Sugimoto et al.


15:50 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, the landing of Perseverance on Mars, and the researchers speaking with lucid dreamers.


Nature News: Mars video reveals Perseverance rover’s daring touchdown

Nature News: Touch down! NASA’s Mars landing sparks new era of exploration

Nature News: The hunt for life on Mars: A visual guide to NASA’s latest mission

Science: Scientists entered people’s dreams and got them ‘talking’


Subscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up...  


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Feb 24, 2021
Audio long-read: Thundercloud Project tackles a gamma-ray mystery
00:22:51

Researchers in Japan are trying to understand why thunderstorms fire out bursts of powerful radiation.


Gamma rays – the highest-energy electromagnetic radiation in the universe – are typically created in extreme outer space environments like supernovae. But back in the 1980s and 1990s, physicists discovered a source of gamma rays much closer to home: thunderstorms here on Earth.


Now, researchers in Japan are enlisting an army of citizen scientists to help understand the mysterious process going on inside storm clouds that leads to them creating extreme bursts of radiation.


This is an audio version of our feature: Thunderstorms spew out gamma rays — these scientists want to know why


 

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Feb 23, 2021
Coronapod: our future with an ever-present coronavirus
00:16:50

What’s the endgame for the COVID-19 pandemic? Is a world without SARS-CoV-2 possible, or is the virus here to stay?


A recent Nature survey suggests that the majority of experts expect the virus to become endemic, circulating in the world’s population for years to come.


But what does this mean? On this week’s episode of Coronapod, we ask what a future with an ever-present virus could look like.


News Feature: The coronavirus is here to stay — here’s what that means

 

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Feb 19, 2021
A mammoth discovery: oldest DNA on record from million-year-old teeth
00:30:53

Researchers sequence the oldest DNA ever recovered, and the people bringing art and science together.


In this episode:

00:46 Million-year-old mammoth DNA

This week, researchers have smashed a long-standing record by sequencing a genome that's over a million years old. They achieved this feat by extracting DNA from permafrost-preserved mammoth teeth, using it to build-up a more detailed family tree for these ancient animals.


Research Article: van der Valk et al.

News: Million-year-old mammoth genomes shatter record for oldest ancient DNA

News and Views: Million-year-old DNA provides a glimpse of mammoth evolution


10:00 Research Highlights

A spacecraft catches a rare glimpse of a rock smashing into Jupiter, and the perilous state of sawfish populations.


Research Highlight: Robotic eyes spy the flash of a meteor on Jupiter

Research Highlight: Humans push a hulking fish with a chainsaw nose towards oblivion


12:18 Putting art into science (and science into art)

Art and science are sometimes considered disparate, but when brought together the results can be greater than the sum of their parts. This week we hear from an artist and a scientist on the benefits they found when crossing the divide.


Career Feature: How to shape a productive scientist–artist collaboration

Career Feature: How the arts can help you to craft a successful research career

Where I work: ‘All my art is curiosity-driven’: the garden studio where art and physics collide


Some resources for bringing arts and science together:

https://okre.org

https://lifeology.io/


21:43 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, a neanderthal gene makes brain-like organoids bumpy, and uncovering the original location of Stonehenge’s stone circle.


News:


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Feb 17, 2021
Coronapod: Is mixing COVID vaccines a good idea?
00:16:14

The science behind how and when to give vaccines doses.


As vaccines are rolled out, massive logistical challenges are leading scientists and policymakers to consider alternative dosing strategies.


But what does the science say? In this week’s episode of Coronapod, we discuss mixing and matching vaccines and lengthening the time between doses. Approaches like these could ease logistical concerns, but we ask what's known about their impact on vaccine efficacy – what is the science behind the decisions, and could they actually boost immune responses?


News: Could mixing COVID vaccines boost immune response? 

 

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Feb 12, 2021
Human Genome Project - Nature’s editor-in-chief reflects 20 years on
00:27:10

Looking back at the publication of the human genome, and how macrophages mend muscle.


In this episode:


00:45 The human genome sequence, 20 years on

This week marks the 20th anniversary of a scientific milestone – the publication of the first draft of the human genome. Magdalena Skipper, Nature’s Editor-in-Chief gives us her recollections of genomics at the turn of the millennium, and the legacy of the achievement.


Editorial: The next 20 years of human genomics must be more equitable and more open

Comment: A wealth of discovery built on the Human Genome Project — by the numbers

Comment: Sequence three million genomes across Africa

Video: How a worm showed us the way to open science

Video: How ancient DNA sequencing changed the game


10:50 Research Highlights

Is there an evolutionary reason why hotter countries have hotter food? Maybe not. And larger groups of giraffe gal pals have better chances of survival.


Research Article: Bromham et al.

Research Highlight: For female giraffes, friends in high places bring towering benefits


12:48 Mending damaged muscles

It’s known that immune cells play an important role in muscle repair. Now though, researchers have isolated the specific molecules involved, and hope that this knowledge could be used in future to create therapies.


Research Article: Ratnayake et al.


19:39 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, a court overrules a Trump administration guideline on how science can be used in environmental policy, and the harrowing lengths that Blue Whales need to take to avoid fishing vessels.


Washington Post: Judge throws out Trump rule limiting what science EPA can use

The Independent: Animation shows week in life of blue whale as it tries to avoid fishing...  


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Feb 10, 2021
Coronapod: Variants – what you need to know
00:17:49

Researchers are scrambling to understand the biology of new coronavirus variants and the impact they might have on vaccine efficacy.


Around the world, concern is growing about the impact that new, faster-spreading variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus will have on the pandemic.

In this episode of Coronapod, we discuss what these variants are, and the best way to respond to them, in the face of increasing evidence that some can evade the immunity produced by vaccination or previous infection.


News: ‘A bloody mess’: Confusion reigns over naming of new COVID variants

News: Fast-spreading COVID variant can elude immune responses

News: Could new COVID variants undermine vaccines? Labs scramble to find out

News: How to redesign COVID vaccines so they protect against variants

News: J&J’s one-shot COVID vaccine offers hope for faster protection

 

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Feb 05, 2021
Mysterious einsteinium spills its secrets
00:27:42

Exploring the properties of a vanishingly-rare artificial element, and the AI that generates new mathematical conjectures.


In this episode:


01:04 Einsteinium's secrets

Einsteinium is an incredibly scarce, artificial element that decays so quickly that researchers don’t know much about it. Now, using state-of-the-art technology, a team has examined how it interacts with other atoms, which they hope will shed new light on einsteinium and its neighbours on the periodic table.


Research Article: Carter et al.


06:28 Research Highlights

The mysterious appearance of three ozone-depleting chemicals in Earth’s atmosphere, and how ride-sharing services have failed to reduce traffic jams.


Research Highlight: Mystery on high: an ozone-destroying chemical appears in the air

Research Highlight: Uber and Lyft drive US gridlock — but not cuts in car ownership


8:38 The computer that comes up with new mathematical formulas

A team of researchers have developed artificial-intelligence algorithms that can generate new formulas for calculating the digits of key mathematical numbers like pi. Although crucial, many of these numbers remain mysterious, so it is hoped that this system will open up new avenues of questioning for mathematicians.


Research Article: Raayoni et al.


14:48 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, a new theory to explain a sixty-year-old mystery surrounding the icy deaths of a group of Russian students, and the continued controversy about the chances of life on Venus.


Video: Explaining the icy mystery of the Dyatlov Pass deaths

News: Life on Venus claim faces strongest challenge yet


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Feb 03, 2021
Coronapod: Fixing the world’s pandemic alarm
00:21:00

A year ago the WHO’s coronavirus emergency alarm was largely ignored. Why?


On 30 January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a ‘public health emergency of international concern’, or PHEIC, to raise the alarm of the imminent threat of a global coronavirus pandemic.


Alongside the PHEIC, the WHO made a number of recommendations to curb the spread of the virus. But many of these were ignored by governments around the world.

In this episode of Coronapod, we explore why this emergency warning system failed, and hear about efforts to reform it, and the WHO, to avoid this happening again.


News: Why did the world’s pandemic warning system fail when COVID hit?

 

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Jan 29, 2021
Audio long-read: Push, pull and squeeze – the hidden forces that shape life
00:15:26

Researchers are probing the subtle physical forces that sculpt cells and bodies.


At every stage of life, from embryo to adulthood, physical forces tug and squeeze at bodies from within.


These forces are vital, ensuring that cells are correctly positioned in a developing embryo, for example. But they also play a role in diseases like cancer. Yet despite their importance, relatively little is known about how cells sense, respond to and generate these forces.


To find out, researchers have turned to bespoke tools and methods, using them to probe lab-cultured cells and whole animals to get to the root of how mechanical forces sculpt life.


This is an audio version of our feature: The secret forces that squeeze and pull life into shape

 

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Jan 28, 2021
How a spinal device could relieve a neglected effect of cord injury
00:27:41

A neuroprosthetic device restores blood-pressure control after spinal-cord injury, and identifying the neurons that help us understand others’ beliefs.


In this episode:

00:47 A neuroprosthetic restores the body’s baroreflex

A common problem for people who have experienced spinal-cord injury is the inability to maintain their blood pressure, which can have serious, long-term health consequences. Now, however, researchers have developed a device that may restore this ability, by stimulating the neural circuits involved in the so-called baroreflex.


Research Article: Squair et al.

News and Views: Neuroprosthetic device maintains blood pressure after spinal cord injury


08:27 Research Highlights

How gesticulating changes the way that speech is perceived, and a new theory of how Saturn got its tilt.


Research Highlight: Hands speak: how casual gestures shape what we hear

Research Highlight: The moon that made Saturn a pushover


10:58 A neuronal map of understanding others

Humans are very good at understanding that other people have thoughts, feelings and beliefs that are different to our own. But the neuronal underpinnings of this ability have been hard to unpick. Now, researchers have identified a subset of neurons that they think gives us this ability.


Research Article: Jamali et al.


18:04 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, the science of why cats love catnip, and the struggle to identify what the mysterious celestial object StDr 56 actually is.


Science: Why cats are crazy for catnip

Syfy Wire: So what the heck is StDr 56?


Subscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.


Check out our new video - Fossilised glider takes the origin of mammals back to the Triassic

 

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Jan 27, 2021
Hiring discrimination laid bare by mountain of data
00:36:41

Analysis of hundreds of thousands of job searches shows that recruiters will discriminate based on ethnicity and gender, and the neural circuitry behind a brief period of forgetting.


In this episode:


00:47 Hiring discrimination

A huge dataset has shown that widespread discrimination occurs in job hiring, based on ethnicity and gender. This backs up decades of research, showing that people from minority backgrounds tend to get contacted far less by employers.


Research Article: Hangartner et al.


09:31 Coronapod

Today Joe Biden becomes the next president of the United States. We find out what this new political chapter could mean for the country’s immediate pandemic response, including the mass rollout of vaccines.

News: Joe Biden’s COVID plan is taking shape — and researchers approve

News: Joe Biden names top geneticist Eric Lander as science adviser


20:46 Research Highlights

A new way to study fragile helium pairs, and there’s no limit to how much exercise improves your heart health.


Research Highlight: Taking tenuous helium molecules for a spin

Research Highlight: Feeling fit? A little more sweat could still help your heart


23:17 Forgetful flies

Ever had the feeling where you can’t quite remember what you were doing? While common, this sort of ‘tip of the tongue’ forgetting is not well understood. Now though, researchers have uncovered the neural process behind this feeling… in fruit flies.


Research Article: Sabadal et al.


29:49 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, the economics calculations of thieving monkeys, and how in certain situations electric eels will hunt together.


The Guardian: Bali’s thieving monkeys can spot high-value items to ransom

Science: Shocking discovery: Electric eels hunt in packs in Amazon rivers


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Jan 20, 2021
Coronapod: The rise of RNA vaccines
00:19:49

Benjamin Thompson, Noah Baker and Elie Dolgin discuss RNA vaccines.


In this episode:

 

01:16 How RNA vaccines came to prominence

In less than a year, two RNA vaccines against COVID-19 were designed, tested and rolled out across the world. We discuss these vaccines’ pros and cons, how RNA technology lends itself to rapid vaccine development, and what this means for the fight against other diseases.


News feature: How COVID unlocked the power of RNA vaccines


09:20 The hurdles for trialling new COVID-19 vaccines

Multiple candidates for new COVID-19 vaccines are still being developed, which may offer advantages over the vaccines currently available. However, running placebo-controlled trials of these candidates is becoming increasingly difficult, so researchers are looking for different ways to evaluate them.


News: Search for better COVID vaccines confounded by existing rollouts


14:45 How long will COVID vaccines be effective?

There is much concern around the world about two faster-spreading variants of SARS-CoV-2. We get an update on whether these variants could render vaccines ineffective.


News: Could new COVID variants undermine vaccines? Labs scramble to find out


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Jan 14, 2021
The mysterious extinction of the dire wolf
00:32:20

DNA clues point to how dire wolves went extinct, and a round-up of the main impacts of Brexit on science.


In this episode:

00:45 Dire wolf DNA

Dire wolves were huge predators that commonly roamed across North America before disappearing around 13,000 years ago. Despite the existence of a large number of dire wolf fossils, questions remain about why this species went extinct and how they relate to other wolf species. Now, using DNA and protein analysis, researchers are getting a better understanding of what happened to these extinct predators.


Research Article: Perri et al.


11:43 Research Highlights

The secret to Pluto’s blue haze, and the neural circuitry underlying mice empathy.


Research Highlight: Ice bathes Pluto in a blue haze

Research Highlight: Brain maps show how empathetic mice feel each other's pain


13:31 Post-Brexit science

In December, a last minute trade-deal between the UK and EU clarified what the future relationship between the two regions would look like, after Brexit. We discuss the implications of this trade-deal for science funding, the movement of researchers, and data sharing.


News Explainer: What the landmark Brexit deal means for science


23:18 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, concerns about contaminating water on the moon, and the spy satellites that spied out environmental change.


Nature News: Will increasing traffic to the Moon contaminate its precious ice?

The New York Times: Inside the C.I.A., She Became a Spy for Planet Earth


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Jan 13, 2021
Audio long-read: Controlling COVID with science - Iceland's story
00:20:48

Lessons from Iceland, which utilised huge scientific resources to contain COVID-19.


When COVID reached the shores of Iceland back in March, the diminutive island brought it to heel with science. Here’s how they did it, and what they learnt.

This is an audio version of our feature: How Iceland hammered COVID with science

 

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Dec 30, 2020
Our podcast highlights of 2020
00:47:56

The Nature Podcast team select some of their favourite stories from the past 12 months.


In this episode:


00:32 Following the Viking footprint across Europe

In September, we heard about the researchers mapping ancient genomes to better understand who the Vikings were, and where they went.


Nature Podcast: 16 September 2020

Research Article: Margaryan et al.


08:09 Mars hopes

In July, the UAE launched its first mission to Mars. We spoke to the mission leads to learn about the aims of the project, and how they developed the mission in under six years.


Nature Podcast: 08 July 2020

News Feature: How a small Arab nation built a Mars mission from scratch in six years

News Feature: Countdown to Mars: three daring missions take aim at the red planet


17:42 Disaster in San Quentin

In July, we reported on a massive COVID-19 outbreak in San Quentin. In Coronapod, we dug into how they got there. Also in the episode, we investigated whether lockdowns could have any lasting impact on young minds.


Coronapod: 10 July 2020

News: California's San Quentin prison declined free coronavirus tests and urgent advice — now it has a massive outbreak


25:23 Communicating complex data

In April, we found out about some of the methods that communications experts and behavioural scientists recommend to keep the public informed about risks and evidence – something that remains key for governments and other organisations during the pandemic.


Coronapod: 17 April 2020


37:19 ‘Stick to the science’: when science gets political

In November, we published our miniseries “Stick to the science” which aimed to find out why a journal of science needs to cover politics. In the series we explored the history, philosophy and reality of science’s complicated relationship with politics.


‘Stick to the science’: when science gets political

 

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Dec 23, 2020
Coronapod: The big COVID research papers of 2020
00:25:51

Benjamin Thompson, Noah Baker and Traci Watson discuss some of 2020's most significant coronavirus research papers.


In the final Coronapod of 2020, we dive into the scientific literature to reflect on the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers have discovered so much about SARS-CoV-2 – information that has been vital for public health responses and the rapid development of effective vaccines. But we also look forward to 2021, and the critical questions that remain to be answered about the pandemic.


Papers discussed

A Novel Coronavirus from Patients with Pneumonia in China, 2019 - New England Journal of Medicine, 24 January

Clinical features of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China - The Lancet, 24 January

A pneumonia outbreak associated with a new coronavirus of probable bat origin - Nature, 3 February

A new coronavirus associated with human respiratory disease in China - Nature, 3 February

Temporal dynamics in viral shedding and transmissibility of COVID-19 - Nature Medicine, 15 April

Spread of SARS-CoV-2 in the Icelandic Population - New England Journal of Medicine, 11 June

High SARS-CoV-2 Attack Rate Following Exposure at a Choir Practice — Skagit County, Washington, March 2020 - Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, 15 August

Respiratory virus shedding in exhaled breath and efficacy of face masks - Nature Medicine, 3 April

Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1 - New England Journal of Medicine, 13 April

Projecting the transmission dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 through the postpandemic period - Science, 22 May


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Dec 17, 2020
Could you prevent a pandemic? A very 2020 video game
00:36:43

A video game provides players with insights into pandemic responses, and our annual festive fun.


In this episode:

01:02 Balancing responses in a video game pandemic

In the strategy video-game Plague Inc: The Cure, players assume the role of an omnipotent global health agency trying to tackle outbreaks of increasingly nasty pathogens. We find out how the game was developed, and how it might help change public perception of pandemic responses.

Plague Inc: The Cure from Ndemic Creations


10:02 “We three Spacecraft travel to Mars”

The first of our festive songs, we head back to July this year, and the launch of three separate space missions to the red planet. Scroll to the transcript section at the bottom of the page for the lyrics.


12:54 Research Highlights

Giant pandas roll in piles of poo to keep warm, and how different bread-baking styles have led to distinct lineages of baker’s yeast.

Research Highlight: Why pandas like to roll in piles of poo

Research Highlight: Sourdough starters give rise to a new line of yeast


15:17 The Nature Podcast Audio Charades Competition: Lockdown edition

In this year’s festive competition, our reporters try to describe some of the biggest science stories, using only homemade sound effects. Results are mixed, at best...


24:15 Nature’s 10

We hear about some of the people who made it on to this year’s Nature’s 10 list this year.

Nature’s 10: ten people who helped shape science in 2020


32:20 All I want for Christmas is vaccines

In our final festive song, we celebrate a huge scientific achievement, and one that’s offering a little hope for 2021. Scroll to the transcript section at the bottom of the page for the lyrics.

Subscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.



Song lyrics:


"We three Spacecraft travel to Mars"

We three spacecraft travel to Mars

Bearing probes we traverse afar

Rockets firing

Launching, flying

One by one we depart


Oh-oh one from China

one the States

one the Arab Emirates…

Careful timing

Worlds aligning

launching on the perfect dates.


First is Hope from the UAE

I map weather, orbitally

My ambition

our first mission

Interplanetary


Oh-oh one from China

one the States

one the Arab Emirates…

Careful timing

Worlds aligning

launching on the perfect dates.


Next Tianwen-one will debut

I’ve a rover and orbiter too

Plus a lander

And I’ve planned a

Mission returning soon


Oh-oh one from China

one the States

one the Arab Emirates…

Careful...  


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Dec 16, 2020
Don’t think too deeply about the origin of life – it may have started in puddles
00:38:01

How water chemistry is shifting researchers' thoughts on where life might have arisen, and a new model to tackle climate change equitably and economically.


In this episode:


00:46 A shallow start to life on Earth?

It’s long been thought that life on Earth first appeared in the oceans. However, the chemical complexities involved in creating biopolymers in water has led some scientists to speculate that shallow pools on land were actually the most likely location for early life.

News Feature: How the first life on Earth survived its biggest threat — water


07:44 Coronapod

The COVID-19 pandemic has massively shifted the scientific landscape, changing research and funding priorities across the world. While this shift was necessary for the development of things like vaccines, there are concerns that the ‘covidization’ of research could have long-term impacts on other areas of research.

News: Scientists fear that ‘covidization’ is distorting research


20:45 Research Highlights

The Hayabusa2 mission successfully delivers a tiny cargo of asteroid material back to Earth, and a team in China claims to have made the first definitive demonstration of computational ‘quantum advantage’.

Nature News: Physicists in China challenge Google’s ‘quantum advantage’


22:38 Calculating carbon

Limiting carbon emissions is essential to tackling climate change. However, working out how to do this in a way that is fair to nations worldwide is notoriously difficult. Now, researchers have developed a model that gives some surprising insights in how to equitably limit carbon.

Research Article: Bauer et al.

News and Views: Trade-offs for equitable climate policy assessed


29:08 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, bioluminescent Australian animals, and the collapse of the Arecibo telescope.

ABC News: Biofluorescent Australian mammals and marsupials take scientists by surprise in accidental discovery

Nature News: Gut-wrenching footage documents Arecibo telescope’s collapse


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Dec 09, 2020
Norway's prime minister reveals plans to protect the world's oceans
00:15:55

Erna Solberg on fisheries, fossil fuels and the future of the oceans.


This week, world leaders are announcing a series of pledges to protect and sustainably use the world’s oceans. The pledges form the crowning achievement of the ‘High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy’ a multinational group formed back in 2018. The panel has sought to bring together research, published in a number of so-called ‘blue papers’ and special reports by scientists, policy- and legal-experts from around the world – all with the ear of 14 participating world leaders.


Erna Solberg, the prime minister of Norway, co-led the Panel. In this podcast, she speaks with Springer Nature’s editor-in-chief Philip Campbell about the panel’s work.


The ocean in humanity’s future: read all of Nature's content on the Ocean Panel


World View: Science can boost ocean health and human prosperity



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Dec 03, 2020
Cellular ageing: turning back the clock restores vision in mice
00:46:18

A trio of genes may be key to making cells young again, and ultra precise measurement of a fundamental physics constant.


In this episode:


00:47 Reversing ageing

Researchers claim to have identified a method to revert cells in mice eyes back to a younger state.


Research article: Lu et al.

News and Views: Sight restored by turning back the epigenetic clock

News: Reversal of biological clock restores vision in old mice


09:39 Coronapod

We discuss emergency-use approvals for COVID-19 vaccines. Approvals are coming in fast, which presents a dilemma for scientists - they’re critically needed, but what could it mean for research?


News: Why emergency COVID-vaccine approvals pose a dilemma for scientists

News: The UK has approved a COVID vaccine — here’s what scientists now want to know


27:04 Research Highlights

Ancient megalodon nurseries, and predicting mud volcanoes.


Research Highlight: Even Earth’s largest-ever sharks needed nurseries for their babies

Research Highlight: How mud volcanoes are born under the sea


29:38 Fine measurement of the fine-structure constant

The fine structure constant is a fundamental number that gives researchers an understanding of the laws of the universe. For years, scientists have been trying to get better measurements of it. This week, we see the most precise measurement yet.


Research Article: Morel et al.

News and Views: Fine-structure constant tests standard model


35:00 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, a holistic plan to tackle climate challenges, and the rarest pollinator of them all - a lizard.


Washington Post: An ancient people with a modern climate plan

The Guardian:


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Dec 02, 2020
Neutrinos give insights into the workings of the Sun’s core
00:35:17

Scientists have finally confirmed the existence of a CNO cycle fusion reaction in the Sun, and why women’s contraception research needs a reboot.


In this episode:


00:47 Detection of CNO neutrinos

Since the 1930s it has been theorised that stars have a specific fusion reaction known as the CNO cycle, but proof has been elusive. Now, a collaboration in Italy report detection of neutrinos that show that the CNO cycle exists.


Research article: The Borexino Collaboration

News and Views: Neutrino detection gets to the core of the Sun


08:48 Coronapod

We discuss the search for the animal origin of SARS-CoV-2, with researchers raiding their freezer draws to see if any animals carry similar viruses, and the latest vaccine results.


News: Coronaviruses closely related to the pandemic virus discovered in Japan and Cambodia

News: Why Oxford’s positive COVID vaccine results are puzzling scientists


19:32 Research Highlights

How sleep patterns relate to ageing, and a solar-powered steam sterilizer.


Research Highlight: For better health, don’t sleep your age

Research Highlight: Technology for sterilizing medical instruments goes solar


21:50 Getting women’s contraception research unstuck

Since the 1960s there has been little progress on research into women’s contraceptives. This week in Nature, researchers argue that this needs to change.


Comment: Reboot contraceptives research — it has been stuck for decades


29:35 Briefing Chat

We discuss a highlight from the Nature Briefing. This time, a tool to summarise papers.


Nature News: tl;dr: this AI sums up research papers in a sentence

Try the TLDR tool yourself!


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Nov 25, 2020
Coronapod: What could falling COVID death rates mean for the pandemic?
00:16:18

In this episode:


00:44 An increase in survival rates

The COVID-19 mortality rate is falling around the world. We discuss the reasons behind this – the role of new drugs, the treatment strategies the have been learned, or re-learned, and the ever-present worry that these hard won victories could be undone by rising infection rates.


News Feature: Why do COVID death rates seem to be falling?


10:53 More vaccine good news

This week, Moderna released preliminary results for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, the third positive indication from a string of vaccine announcements. Although the full data are yet to be published, do these results give us more reasons to feel hopeful?


News: COVID vaccine excitement builds as Moderna reports third positive result


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Nov 19, 2020
The troubling rise of facial recognition technology
00:35:01

Scientists have grave concerns over ethical and societal impacts of facial-recognition technology. In this surveillance special, we dig into the details.


In this episode:


03:24 Standing up against ‘smart cities’

Cities across the globe are installing thousands of surveillance cameras equipped with facial recognition technology. Although marketed as a way to reduce crime, researchers worry that these systems are ripe for exploitation and are calling for strict regulations on their deployment.

Feature: Resisting the rise of facial recognition


17:44 The ethics of researching facial recognition technology

Despite concerns surrounding consent and use, researchers are still working on facial recognition technology. Can this sort of work be justified? We hear some of the debates going on in academia about this field of research.

Feature: The ethical questions that haunt facial-recognition research


25:02 What do researchers actually think?

Nature surveyed 480 researchers who have published papers on facial recognition, AI and computer science. The results revealed that many researchers think there’s a problem.

Subscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.

 

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Nov 18, 2020
Audio long-read: The enigmatic organisms of the Ediacaran Period
00:19:08

New fossil finds and new techniques reveal evidence that early animals were more complex than previously thought.


The Cambrian explosion, around 541 million years ago, has long been regarded as a pivotal point in evolutionary history, as this is when the ancient ancestors of most of today’s animals made their first appearances in the fossil record.


Before this was a period known as the Ediacaran – a time when the world was believed to be populated by strange, simple organisms. But now, modern molecular research techniques, and some newly discovered fossils, are providing evidence that some of these organisms were actually animals, including ones with sophisticated features like legs and guts.


This is an audio version of our feature: These bizarre ancient species are rewriting animal evolution

 

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Nov 13, 2020
Revealed: the impact of noise and light pollution on birds
00:39:33

Researchers try to unpick the complex relationship between sensory pollutants and bird reproduction, and how to combat organised crime in fisheries.


In this episode:


00:46 Sensory pollution and bird reproduction

Light- and noise-pollution have been shown to affect the behaviour of birds. However, it’s been difficult to work out whether these behavioural changes have led to bird species thriving or declining. Now, researchers have assembled a massive dataset that can begin to give some answers. Research article: Senzaki et al.


10:17 Coronapod

Interim results from a phase III trial show compelling evidence that a coronavirus vaccine candidate can prevent COVID-19. However, amid the optimism there remain questions to be answered – we discuss these, and what the results might mean for other vaccines in development. News: What Pfizer’s landmark COVID vaccine results mean for the pandemic


23:29 Research Highlights

A tiny bat breaks a migration record, and researchers engineer a mouse’s sense of place. Research Highlight: The record-setting flight of a bat that weighs less than a toothbrush; Research Article: Robinson et al.


25:39 Organised crime in fisheries

When you think of fishing, organised crime probably isn’t the first thing that springs to mind. However, billions of dollars every year from the fishing industry are lost to criminal enterprises. We discuss some of the impacts and what can be done about it. Research Article: Witbooi et al.


32:13 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, a time-capsule discovered on the Irish coast provides a damning indictment of Arctic warming, and some human remains challenge the idea of ‘man-the-hunter’. The Guardian: Arctic time capsule from 2018 washes up in Ireland as polar ice melts; Science: Woman the hunter: Ancient Andean remains challenge old ideas of who speared big game


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Nov 11, 2020
A powerful radio burst from a magnetic star
00:34:40

Astronomers pin down the likely origins of mysterious fast radio bursts, and the latest on what the US election means for science.


In this episode:


00:46 The origins of mysterious fast radio bursts

The detection of a brief but enormously-powerful radio burst originating from within the Milky Way could help researchers answer one of astronomy’s biggest mysteries.

Research article: Bochenek et al.; News: Astronomers spot first fast radio burst in the Milky Way


07:59 Coronapod

At the start of the pandemic, there were fears that schools could become hotspots for infections. We discuss the evidence suggesting that this is unlikely to be the case, and the rates of infection in children of different ages.

News: Why schools probably aren’t COVID hotspots


18:34 Research Highlights

Octopuses taste with touch, and a tool to watch dangerously-reactive metals grow.

Research Highlight: How octopuses taste with their arms — all eight of them; Research Highlight: How to make violently reactive metals and watch them grow


21:28 An update on the US election

Although the winner of this year’s US election is unclear, we discuss the current situation and what it might mean for science.


News: Scientists aghast as hopes for landslide Biden election victory vanish


28:58 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, ancient genomes reveal the migration of man’s best friend, and a new polio vaccine looks set to receive emergency approval.

News: Ancient dog DNA reveals 11,000 years of canine evolution; News: New polio vaccine poised to get emergency WHO approval


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Nov 04, 2020
Talking politics, talking science
00:23:25

Science and politics are not easy bedfellows - "Stick to the science" is a three part series which aims to find out why.


In the third and final episode we try to get to the bottom of how journalists, communicators and policymakers influence how science is perceived. We discuss the danger of politicization and ask the question - can science be part of the political narrative without compromising its values?


Tell us what you think of this series: https://go.nature.com/2HzXVLc


This episode was produced by Nick Howe, with editing from Noah Baker and Benjamin Thompson. It featured: Deborah Blum, Bruce Lewenstein, Dan Sarewitz, Hannah Schmid-Petri, Shobita Parthasarathy, and Beth Simone Noveck.


Further Reading

The great fish pain debate

Politicization of mask wearing

Masks work

Donald Trump used a quote from Anthony Fauci to falsely suggest Fauci approved of his actions in the pandemic

Comparing Norway and Sweden in their coronavirus combating actions

Beth Simone Noveck argues for more open and transparent governance

Solving Public Problems, by Beth Simone Noveck

Smart Citizens, Smarter State: The Technologies of Expertise and the Future of Governing, by Beth Simone Noveck

The Received Wisdom Podcast, with Shobita Parthasarathy

 

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Oct 30, 2020
Politics of the life scientific
00:24:17

Science and politics are not easy bedfellows - "Stick to the science" is a three part series which aims to find out why.


In this episode we're asking how politics shapes the life of a working scientist. Be it through funding agendas, cultural lobbies or personal bias, there's a myriad of ways in which politics can shape the game; influencing the direction and quality of research, But what does this mean for the objective ideals of science?


Tell us what you think of this series: https://go.nature.com/2HzXVLc


This episode was produced by Nick Howe, with editing from Noah Baker and Benjamin Thompson. it featured contributions from many people, including: Mayana Zatz, Shobita Parthasarathy, Michael Erard, Peg AtKisson, Susannah Gal, Allen Rostron, Mark Rosenberg, and Alice Bell.


Further Reading

Brazil’s budget cuts threaten more than 80,000 science scholarships

Move to reallocate funds from scientific institutions in São Paulo

Backlash to “Shrimps on a treadmill”

Explanation of the Dickey Amendment

After over 20 years the CDC can now fund gun violence research

Spirometer use “race-correction” software

Black researchers less likely to get funding from the National Institutes of Health in the US

Black researchers may get less funding from the National Institutes of Health due to topic choice

Black researchers fill fewer academic roles in the UK

Clinical trials use mostly white participants

The Received Wisdom Podcast, with Shobita Parthasarathy

 

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Oct 29, 2020
A brief history of politics and science
00:28:23

Science and politics are not easy bedfellows - "Stick to the science" is a three part series which aims to find out why.


In this episode we delve into the past, and uncover the complicated relationship between science, politics and power. Along the way, we come up against some pretty big questions: what is science? Should science be apolitical? And where does Nature fit in?


Tell us what you think of this series: https://go.nature.com/2HzXVLc


This episode was produced by Nick Howe, with editing from Noah Baker and Benjamin Thompson. it featured contributions from many researchers, including: Shobita Parthasarathy, Alice Bell, Dan Sarewitz, Anna Jay, Melinda Baldwin, Magdelena Skipper, Steven Shapin, David Edgerton, Deborah Blum, Bruce Lewenstein and Chiara Ambrosio. Quotes from social media were read by: Shamini Bundell, Flora Graham, Dan Fox, Edie Edmundson and Bredan Maher. And excerpts from Nature were read by Jen Musgreave.


Further Reading

History of Education in the UK

Nature’s History

Nature’s Mission statement

Nature editorial on covering politics

Making “Nature”, by Melinda Baldwin

Never Pure: Historical Studies of Science as if It Was Produced by People with Bodies, Situated in Time, Space, Culture, and Society, and Struggling for Credibility and Authority, by Steven Shapin

David Edgerton’s writing on the history of science and politics in the Guardian

The received wisdom podcast with Shobita Parthasarathy

 

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Oct 28, 2020
Lab–grown brains and the debate over consciousness
00:38:43

The chances of mini-brains becoming sentient, and a UK government decision threatens gender diversity in academia.


In this episode:


00:59 The ethics of creating consciousness

Brain organoids, created by culturing stem cells in a petri dish, are a mainstay of neuroscience research. But as these mini-brains become more complex, is there the chance they could become conscious, and if so, how could we tell?


News Feature: Can lab-grown brains become conscious?


09:01 Coronapod

So called ‘herd immunity’ is claimed by some as a way to break the chain of infection and curtail the pandemic. However epidemiologists say that this course of action is ineffective and will lead to large numbers of infections and deaths.


News Explainer: The false promise of herd immunity for COVID-19


20:59 Research Highlights

Volcanic ash degrades ancient art in Pompeii, and the aerial ineptitude of two bat-like dinosaurs.


Research Highlight: The volcanic debris that buried Pompeii wreaks further destruction; Research Highlight: A dead end on the way to the sky


23:22 How cutting red-tape could harm gender diversity in UK academia

The Athena SWAN scheme, designed to boost gender-equality in UK academia, has proved effective, and has been exported to countries around the world. But now a decision by the UK government to cut bureaucracy could mean that institutions pay less heed to schemes like this and threaten future efforts to increase gender diversity in UK academia.


Editorial: Equality and diversity efforts do not ‘burden’ research — no matter what the UK government says


31:00 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, oncologists discover a potential new human organ, and how re-examined fossils have given new insights into the size of baby tyrannosaurs.


New York Times: Doctors May Have Found Secretive New Organs in the Center of Your Head; National Geographic: First tyrannosaur embryo fossils revealed


Other links

Vote for the podcast in this year's Lovie Awards! Your vote can help us win a People's Lovie. Two of our videos are also up an award,


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Oct 28, 2020
The science behind an 'uncrushable' beetle’s exoskeleton
00:37:52

The structure of a beetle’s super-strong exoskeleton could open up new engineering applications, and efforts to address diversity and equality imbalances in academia.


In this episode:


01:17 Insights into an armoured insect

The diabolical ironclad beetle has an exoskeleton so strong, it can survive being run over by a car. Researchers have identified how the structure of the exoskeleton provides this strength, and show that mimicking it may lead to improved aerospace components.


Research Article: Rivera et al.News and Views: Diabolical ironclad beetles inspire tougher joints for engineering applications


10:42 Coronapod

This week, the UK government announced plans to run a ‘human challenge trial’, where healthy volunteers are deliberately infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. We talk about the process, the ethical and procedural hurdles, and whether such an approach will provide any useful data.


News: Dozens to be deliberately infected with coronavirus in UK ‘human challenge’ trials


22:46 Research Highlights

A method to assess the age of RNA, and how southern elephant seals helped to identify supercooled seawater.


Research article: Rodriques et al.; Research article: Haumann et al.


25:20 Efforts to address equity in science

Julie Posselt has been investigating the efforts of academic institutions to assess ingrained imbalances in diversity and equality. We talk to her about these efforts and her new book on the subject.


Book review: How to get more women and people of colour into graduate school — and keep them there


31:43 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, back pay for female professors at Princeton, and a newly uncovered superpower for the tiny tardigrade.


CNN: Princeton will pay nearly $1M in back pay to female professors in sweeping discrimination settlementScience: New species of water bear uses fluorescent ‘shield’ to survive lethal UV radiation

 

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Oct 21, 2020
Superconductivity gets heated
00:39:56

A high pressure experiment reveals the world’s first room-temperature superconductor, and a method to target ecosystem restoration.


In this episode:

00:44 Room-temperature superconductivity

For decades, scientists have been searching for a material that superconducts at room temperature. This week, researchers show a material that appears to do so, but only under pressures close to those at the centre of the planet. Research Article: Snider et al.; News: First room-temperature superconductor puzzles physicists


08:26 Coronapod

The Coronapod team revisit mask-use. Does public use really control the virus? And how much evidence is enough to turn the tide on this ongoing debate? News Feature: Face masks: what the data say


19:37 Research Highlights

A new method provides 3D printed materials with some flexibility, and why an honest post to Facebook may do you some good. Research Highlight: A promising 3D-printing method gets flexible; Research Highlight: Why Facebook users might want to show their true colours


22:11 The best way to restore ecosystems

Restoring degraded or human-utilised landscapes could help fight climate change and protect biodiversity. However, there are multiple costs and benefits that need to be balanced. Researchers hope a newly developed algorithm will help harmonise these factors and show the best locations to target restoration. Research Article: Strassburg et al.; News and Views: Prioritizing where to restore Earth’s ecosystems


28:40 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, a 44 year speed record for solving a maths problem is beaten… just, and an ancient set of tracks show a mysterious journey. Quanta: Computer Scientists Break Traveling Salesperson Record; The Conversation: Fossil footprints: the fascinating story behind the longest known prehistoric journey



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Oct 14, 2020
Audio long-read: What animals really think
00:18:16

Researchers are aligning data on animal neuronal activity with behavioural information recorded on millisecond timescales, to uncover the signatures of internal brain states associated with things like moods and motivation.


This is an audio version of our feature: Inside the mind of an animal

 

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Oct 09, 2020
Trump vs. Biden: what's at stake for science?
00:43:25

A conversation about the US election and the possible fallout for science, and are maternal behaviours learned or innate?


In this episode:


00:46 US election

In the United States the presidential race is underway, and Nature is closely watching to see what might happen for science. We speak to two of our US based reporters to get their insight on the election and what to look out for. News Feature: A four-year timeline of Trump’s impact on science; News Feature: How Trump damaged science — and why it could take decades to recover; News: What a Joe Biden presidency would mean for five key science issues


12:36 Coronapod

With news of the US President Donald Trump contracting coronavirus, the Coronapod team discuss the treatments he has received and what this might mean for the US government. News: Contact tracing Trump's travels would require 'massive' effort


25:33 Research Highlights

How binary stars could become black hole mergers, and a prehistoric massacre. Research Highlight: The odd couple: how a pair of mismatched black holes formed; Research Highlight: A bustling town’s annihilation is frozen in time


27:36 Are parental behaviours innate?

Nature versus nurture is a debate as old as science itself,and in a new paper maternal behaviours are innate or learned, by looking at the neurological responses of adult mice to distress calls from mice pups. Research Article: Schiavo et al.


33:03 Briefing Chat

This week sees the announcement of the Nobel Prizes, so we chat about the winners and their accomplishments. News: Physicists who unravelled mysteries of black holes win Nobel prize; News: Virologists who discovered hepatitis C win medicine Nobel; News: Pioneers of revolutionary CRISPR gene editing win chemistry Nobel



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Oct 07, 2020
Greenland's ice will melt faster than any time in the past 12,000 years
00:35:40

How current and future ice loss in Greenland compares to the past, and using graphene to make ultra-sensitive radiation detectors.


In this episode:


00:45 Greenland’s historic ice loss

Climate change is accelerating the loss of ice and glaciers around the world leading to unprecedented levels of disappearance. Researchers have drilled samples from deep in the Greenland ice sheet, to model how current, and future, losses compare to those seen in the last 12,000 years. Research Article: Briner et al.; News and Views: The worst is yet to come for the Greenland ice sheet; Editorial: Arctic science cannot afford a new cold war


09:23 Coronapod

Despite recovering from an initial COVID-19 infection, many patients are experiencing severe symptoms months later. We find out about the impact of ‘Long Covid’ and the research that’s being done to try and understand it. News Feature: The lasting misery of coronavirus long-haulers


18:55 Research Highlights

A robot defeats humans at yet another sport, and extreme diving in Cuvier’s beaked whales. Research Highlight: A robot triumphs in a curling match against elite humans; Research Highlight: A smiling whale makes a record deep dive


21:20 A radiation detector made of graphene

Radiation-detectors known as bolometers are vital instruments in many fields of science. This week, two groups of researchers have harnessed graphene to make super sensitive bolometers that could be used to improve quantum computers, or detect subtle traces of molecules on other planets. Research Article: Lee et al.; Research Article: Kokkoniemi et al.


27:49 Briefing Chat

We discuss some of the latest stories highlighted in the Nature Briefing. This week we chat about the lack of diversity in academia, and an animal ally that can protect wildlife during forest fires. Nature Careers: Diversity in science: next steps for research group leaders; National Geographic:


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Sep 30, 2020
After decades of trying, scientists coax plastic particles into a diamond-like structure
00:37:55

Coaxing tiny colloid particles into a diamond structure, and manipulating cell death and homeostasis in neurodegenerative disease.


In this episode:


00:45 Creating colloidal crystals

For decades, researchers have attempted to create crystals with a diamond-like structure using tiny colloid particles. Now, a team thinks they’ve cracked it, which could open the door for new optical technologies. Research Article: He et al.


07:50 Coronapod

Rapid antigen tests for coronavirus have been described in some circles as ‘game changers’ in the fight against COVID-19. We discuss their strengths and weaknesses, and how they could fit into an overall testing strategy. News Feature: Fast coronavirus tests: what they can and can’t do; If you are involved in a clinical trial for a coronavirus vaccine or treatment, please fill in our survey.


23:52 Research Highlights

Climate change causes greening in the Arctic, and the peptide that gives the Giant Stinging Tree its sting. Research Highlight: A frozen land goes green as Earth warms; Research Highlight: How the giant stinging tree of Australia can inflict months of agony


26:04 Controlling cellular death

In neurodegenerative disease, cell death can be prevented, however this can lead to the accumulation of incorrectly folded proteins. Now researchers have found targets that can be used to both stop cell death and protein aggregation. Research Article: Xu et al.


32:20 Briefing Chat

We discuss some of the latest stories highlighted in the Nature Briefing. This week we talk about the increasing complexity of scientific writing, and uncovering the real origins of charcoal. Nature Index: Science is getting harder to read; Nature News: Microscopy illuminates charcoal’s sketchy origins


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Sep 23, 2020
Genes chart Vikings' spread across Europe
00:35:30

Mapping the migration of the Vikings, and the world’s smallest ultrasound device.


In this episode:

00:45 Following the Viking footprint across Europe

To better understand who the Vikings were, and where they went, researchers have mapped genomes from hundreds of archaeological artifacts. Research Article: Margaryan et al.


08:00 Coronapod

Phase III trials of a leading coronavirus vaccine were abruptly paused last week – we discuss how news of the event leaked out, and the arguments for transparency in clinical trials. News: A leading coronavirus vaccine trial is on hold: scientists react; News: Scientists relieved as coronavirus vaccine trial restarts — but question lack of transparency; If you are involved in a clinical trial for a coronavirus vaccine or treatment, please fill in our survey.


21:05 Research Highlights

A burnt grain silo gives insight into ancient tax collection, and how hummingbirds survive the cold Andean nights. Research Highlight: Ancient tax collectors amassed a fortune — until it went up in smoke; Research Highlight: Why some of the world’s zippiest birds go stiff and cold every night


23:40 Ultra-tiny ultrasound

Scientists have developed an ultrasound detector which is smaller than the wavelength of sound it detects, providing highly detailed imaging at a cellular level; Research Article: ; Research Article: Shnaiderman et al.


29:53 Briefing Chat

We discuss some of the latest stories highlighted in the Nature Briefing. This week we talk about why California has an orange hue, and the strangeness at the edge of the Solar System. Forbes: The Science Behind Mysterious Orange Skies In California; BBC Future: The weird space that lies outside our Solar System


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Sep 16, 2020
A new way to cool computer chips — from within
00:39:05

Keeping electronics from overheating, and how to include minority populations in genetic analyses.


In this episode:

00:46 Cool computers

Keeping components cool is a major hurdle when it comes to increasing electronic power. This week, we find out about a new way to integrate tiny microfluidic channels directly into circuits, to help keep them cool. Research Article: van Erp et al.


06:57 Coronapod

By comparing coronavirus genomes taken from people around the world, researchers are getting an idea of how SARS-CoV-2 is changing as it spreads. We discuss a particular genetic mutation that rapidly became dominant early in the pandemic, and the effect it may have had on the outbreak. News: The coronavirus is mutating — does it matter?


21:41 Research Highlights

How rock avalanches can cause destructive air blasts, and melting glaciers cause lakes to grow. Research Highlight: The violent blasts that can add to an avalanche’s devastation; Research Article: Shugar et al.


23:59 The people left out of genetic studies

Minority populations are often underrepresented in genetic study recruitment. However, even when data about them is collected it may go unused. We find out why, and what can be done about it. Comment: Don’t ignore genetic data from minority populations


30:51 Briefing Chat

We discuss some of the latest stories highlighted in the Nature Briefing. This week we discuss how bacterially-infected mosquitoes could curb dengue fever, and some surprisingly large black holes. Nature News: The mosquito strategy that could eliminate dengue; Nature News: ‘It’s mindboggling!’: astronomers detect most powerful black-hole collision yet


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Sep 09, 2020
Revealed: A clearer view of how general anaesthetics actually work
00:35:37

Engineering yeast to produce medicines, and the mechanism of anaesthetic action.


In this episode:


00:44 Making medicine with yeast

The tropane alkaloids are an important class of medicine, but they are produced agriculturally leaving them vulnerable to extreme weather and world events. Now, researchers have engineered yeast to produce these important molecules. Research Article: Srinivasan and Smolke


06:36 Coronapod

We discuss the complex story of immunity to COVID-19, and how this may affect vaccine development. News Feature: What the immune response to the coronavirus says about the prospects for a vaccine


16:33 Research Highlights

The neurological reason for overindulgence, and the bacteria that harness copper electrodes. Research Highlight: The brain circuit that encourages eating for pleasure; Research Highlight: Microbes with mettle build their own electrical ‘wires’


19:07 The molecular mechanisms of general anaesthetics

Despite over a century of use, there’s a lot we don’t know about how anaesthetics function. This week, researchers have identified how some of them they bind to a specific neuronal receptor. Research Article: Kim et al.


26:34 Briefing Chat

Whilst the Nature Briefing is on its summer holidays, we take a look at some other science from around the web. This time we discuss Elon Musk’s latest showcase of a brain-chip, and the physics behind how boats can float upside down on levitating liquid. New Scientist: Elon Musk demonstrated a Neuralink brain implant in a live pig; Business Insider: Elon Musk's AI brain chip company Neuralink is doing its first live tech demo on Friday. Here's what we know so far about the wild science behind it.; Research Article: Apffel et al.; Video: The weird physics of upside down buoyancy




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Sep 02, 2020
The challenge of reproducing results from ten-year-old code
00:34:36

Protecting delicate quantum bits, and a competition to replicate findings from ancient computer code.


In this episode:


01:04 Quantum computers vs ionizing radiation

The quantum bits, or ‘qubits’, central to the operation of quantum computers are notoriously sensitive. Now, researchers have assessed the damaging effects that ionizing radiation can have on these qubits and what can be done about it. Research Article: Vepsäläinen et al.


08:15 Coronapod

We discuss the US Food and Drug Administration’s decision to authorize convalescent plasma for emergency use in COVID-19 patients. As accusations of political interference fly, what might this mean for the future of the US coronavirus response?


20:39 Research Highlights

Finding new populations of a long-lost elephant shrew, and the hunting method of ancient ichthyosaurs. Research Highlight: An elephant-nosed creature ‘lost to science’ was living just next door; Research Highlight: An extinct reptile’s last meal shows it was a grip-and-tear killer


22:34 The reproducibility of computer code

Many scientists have published papers based on code. Recently though, a gauntlet was thrown down for researchers to try to replicate their code, 10 years or more after they wrote it. Tech Feature: Challenge to scientists: does your ten-year-old code still run?


28:06 Briefing Chat

We take a look at some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time we discuss a cancer diagnosis in a dinosaur, and how to brew yourself a career outside of academia. Science: Doctors diagnose advanced cancer—in a dinosaur; Nature Careers Feature: The brews and bakes that forged career paths outside academia


Subscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.


Other links

Video: March of the microscopic robots

 

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Aug 26, 2020
3D-printing some of the world's lightest materials
00:37:17

A new way to produce aerogels opens up their use, and understanding how sulfur can change state between two liquids.


In this episode:

01:05 Printing aerogels

Aerogels are materials with impressive insulating properties, but they’re difficult to handle, due to their innate fragility. Now, researchers have shown a new way to 3D print the most common form of aerogel, opening up a range of potential new applications. Research Article: Zhao et al.


07:00 Coronapod

To provide targeted public health interventions during the pandemic, it’s vital that data are collected and shared effectively. We discuss the countries doing this well, and find out how fragmented systems are preventing epidemiologists from giving up-to-date information on outbreaks. News: Why the United States is having a coronavirus data crisis


21:11 Research Highlights

Fats in the blood as a possible marker of autism, and the selfish component to solar panel adoption. Research Highlight: Fats in the blood linked to autism; Research Highlight: Self-interest powers decision to go solar


23:24 Liquid-liquid transitions

It’s been thought that some liquids may be able to exist in two distinct states, but evidence has been scarce. Now, researchers show that sulfur can exist in two liquid states, and have discovered some insights into how this might occur. Research Article: Henry et al.; Video: 24 hours in a synchrotron


30:09 Briefing Chat

We take a look at some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time we discuss the English language’s dominance in science, and how to make squid transparent. Symmetry: Physics in a second language; OneZero: The First Gene-Edited Squid in History Is a Biological Breakthrough


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Aug 19, 2020
The chemical that turns locusts from Jekyll into Hyde
00:31:53

Triggering swarming behaviour in locusts, and new insights into how humans synchronize.


In this episode:


01:56 Understanding swarming behaviour

Swarms of migratory locusts regularly devastate crops across the world, but why these swarms form has been a mystery. Now, a team of researchers have identified a compound that causes solitary locusts to come together in their billions - a finding that could have practical applications for preventing this behaviour. Research article: Guo et al.; News & Views: Catching plague locusts with their own scent


08:48 Coronapod

We discuss the role that monoclonal antibodies may have as therapeutics to treat COVID-19. Although promising, there are numerous hurdles to overcome before these drugs can be used. News: Antibody therapies could be a bridge to a coronavirus vaccine — but will the world benefit?


15:30 Research Highlights

A satellite’s fecal find reveals that Antarctica’s emperor penguin population is much larger than previously thought, and changing how genes are named to avoid Excel’s autocorrect. Research Highlight: Satellites find penguins by following the poo; Research article: Bruford et al.


17:49 An out-of-sync arts project

A collaborative art-science project featuring a network of connected violinists has given new insights into how humans synchronize. Research article: Shahal et al.


23:51 Briefing Chat

We take a look at some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time we find out about the odd immune system of the anglerfish, and the beetle that can pass through a frog’s digestive system without coming to harm. Wired: The Anglerfish Deleted Its Immune System to Fuse With Its Mate; Research paper: Sugiura


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Aug 12, 2020
Audio long-read: Pluto’s dark side is overflowing with secrets
00:18:10

In 2015, after a nine-and-a-half-year journey, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft raced past Pluto, beaming images of the dwarf planet back to Earth.


Five years after the mission, researchers are poring over images of Pluto’s far-side, which was shrouded in shadow during New Horizon’s flypast. They hope that these images will help give a better understanding of how Pluto was born and even whether a hidden ocean resides beneath the world’s icy crust.


This is an audio version of our feature: Pluto’s dark side spills its secrets — including hints of a hidden ocean

 

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Aug 07, 2020
Why skin grows bigger as you stretch it
00:33:50

Skin's unusual response to stretching is finally explained, and the latest in a huge effort to map DNA.


In this episode:


01:06 Stretching skin

For decades it’s been known that stretching skin causes more skin to grow, but the reasons why have been a mystery. Now, researchers have uncovered a mechanism to explain the phenomenon. Research Article: Aragona et al.News and Views: Stretch exercises for stem cells expand the skin


07:49 Coronapod

We discuss how the coronavirus pandemic has affected scientific meetings and how the learned societies that organise them are adapting. How scientific conferences will survive the coronavirus shockHow scientific societies are weathering the pandemic’s financial storm

A year without conferences? How the coronavirus pandemic could change research


18:18 Research Highlights

A genetic trait for pain-resistance, and the accessibility-aware ancient Greeks. Research Highlight: A gene helps women in labour to skip the painkillersResearch Highlight: This temple was equipped with accessibility ramps more than 2,000 years ago


20:42 ENCODE updates

The ENCODE project aims to identify all the regions in the human genome involved in gene regulation. This week, data from its third iteration has been published and we examine the highlights. Research Article: SnyderNews and Views: Expanded ENCODE delivers invaluable genomic encyclopaedia


28:50 Briefing Chat

We take a look at some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time we look at how smallpox may be much older than previously thought, and how the Earth’s atmosphere rings like a bell. Nature News: Smallpox and other viruses plagued humans much earlier than suspectedPhysics World:


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Jul 29, 2020
When did people arrive in the Americas? New evidence stokes debate
00:42:22

New evidence may push back the date on human arrival to the Americas, and an examination of science’s flaws.


In this episode:


00:59 Ancient Americans

Two papers suggest that humans were present in the Americas thousands of years before many people have thought. We examine the evidence. Research Article: Ardelean et al.Research Article: Becerra-Valdivia and HighamNews and Views: Evidence grows that peopling of the Americas began more than 20,000 years ago


10:44 Coronapod

We discuss the latest results from vaccine trials around the world, and controversy in the US as COVID-19 data collection moves out of the CDC. News: Coronavirus vaccines leap through safety trials — but which will work is anybody’s guess


24:38 Research Highlights

How being green makes things easy for some frogs, and how waves will be affected by climate change. Research Highlight: How frogs became green — again, and again, and againResearch Highlight: Extreme Arctic waves set to hit new heights


27:11 How can science improve?

A new book highlights some of the flaws of how science is done. We caught up with the author to find out his thoughts on how science can be cleaned up. Books and Arts: Fraud, bias, negligence and hype in the lab — a rogues’ gallery


35:54 Briefing Chat

We take a look at some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time we discuss a puzzling new insight into the expansion of the Universe, and an update to Plan S that will allow open-access research to be published in any journal. Nature News: Mystery over Universe’s expansion deepens with fresh dataNature News: Open-access Plan S to allow publishing in any journal


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Jul 22, 2020
Graphene’s magic angle reveals a new twist
00:37:59

Probing the superconducting properties of graphene and bacteria that can use manganese to grow.


01:15 Magic angle graphene

If you sandwich two sheets of graphene together and twist one in just the right way, it can gain some superconducting properties. Now, physicists have added another material to this sandwich which stabilises that superconductivity, a result that may complicate physicists’ understanding of magic angles. Research Article: Arora et al.


08:22 Coronapod

With evidence mounting that SARS-CoV2 can spread in tiny aersolised droplets, researchers have called on the WHO to change their guidance for disease prevention. News: Mounting evidence suggests coronavirus is airborne — but health advice has not caught up; Research article: Morwaska et al.; WHO: Transmission of SARS-CoV-2: implications for infection prevention precautions


19:27 Research Highlights

Repairing human lungs by hooking them up to pigs, and a new form of carbon. Research Highlight: How to use a live pig to revitalize a human lungResearch Highlight: This material is almost as hard as diamond — but as light as graphite


21:46 Manganese munchers

For decades it’s been thought that microbes that use manganese as an energy source must exist. Now, for the first time, researchers have found evidence that they do. Research Article: Yu and Leadbetter


29:12 Briefing Chat

We take a look at some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time we discuss DNA evidence of contact between ancient Native Americans and Polynesians, reintroduction of bison to the UK, and the first extinction of a modern marine fish. Nature News: Ancient voyage carried Native Americans’ DNA to remote Pacific islandsThe Guardian: Wild bison to return to UK for first time in 6,000 yearsScientific American: 


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Jul 15, 2020
Coronapod: Massive coronavirus outbreak strikes iconic Californian prison after it rejected expert aid
00:46:21

In this episode:


01:47 Disaster in San Quentin

San Quentin prison is facing a massive outbreak, we dig into how they got there. The crisis has arisen despite warnings from experts, and offers of free tests, which were declined. We ask why? And what can be done now?

News: California's San Quentin prison declined free coronavirus tests and urgent advice — now it has a massive outbreak


29:51 One good thing

For the last episode of Coronapod, our hosts pick out ways that the pandemic has changed them for the better, including professional flexibility, a renewed focus on the power of reporting and time with family


36:07 Lockdown and children's health

Reporter Stewart asks if lockdowns could have any lasting impact on her young children - what evidence is there on the effect of isolation on young minds?

Survey: Co-Space Study: Supporting Parents, Adolescents and Children during Epidemics

 

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Jul 10, 2020
The six-year-old space agency with hopes for Mars
00:24:46

On this week’s podcast, an ambitious Mars mission from a young space agency, and how crumbling up rocks could help fight climate change.


In this episode:


00:46 Mars hopes

In a few weeks the UAE’s first mission to Mars is due to launch. We speak to the mission leads to learn about the aims of the project, and how they developed the mission in under six years. News Feature: How a small Arab nation built a Mars mission from scratch in six yearsNews Feature: Countdown to Mars: three daring missions take aim at the red planet


09:53 Research Highlights

Pluto appears to be losing its atmosphere, and solving the mystery of a pitch-black prehistoric mine. Research Highlight: Goodbye, Pluto’s atmosphereResearch Highlight: Why ancient people pushed deep into Mexico’s pitch-black caverns


12:12 Climate rocks

Researchers have assessed whether Enhanced Weathering – a technique to pull carbon dioxide out of the air – has the potential to help battle climate change. Research Article: Beerling et al.


18:41 Briefing Chat

We take a look at some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time we talk about an outbreak of flesh-eating bacteria in Australia, and how flatworms can regrow their nervous systems. The Atlantic: Australia Has a Flesh-Eating-Bacteria ProblemThe New York Times: A Worm’s Hidden Map for Growing New Eyes


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Jul 08, 2020
Coronapod: Lessons from pandemic ‘war-game’ simulations
00:33:00

Next week, we’ll be wrapping up Coronapod in its current form. Please fill out our short survey to let us know your thoughts on the show.


In this episode:


02:15 Simulating pandemics

Researchers have run numerous military-style simulations to predict the consequences of fictitious viral outbreaks. We discuss how these simulations work, what recommendations come out of them and if any of these warnings have been heeded.


24:08 One good thing

Our hosts pick out things that have made them smile in the last week, including audience feedback, the official end of the Ebola outbreak in the northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, and an enormous t-shirt collection.


News: World’s second-deadliest Ebola outbreak ends in Democratic Republic of the Congo


28:50 The latest coronavirus research papers

Benjamin Thompson takes a look through some of the key coronavirus papers of the last few weeks.


News: Coronavirus research updates

Cell: A SARS-CoV-2 Infection Model in Mice Demonstrates Protection by Neutralizing Antibodies

Cell: Generation of a Broadly Useful Model for COVID-19 Pathogenesis, Vaccination, and Treatment

Clincal Infectious Diseases: The natural history and transmission potential of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection

Nature: Suppression of a SARS-CoV-2 outbreak in the Italian municipality of Vo’

medRxiv: Test sensitivity is secondary to frequency and turnaround time for COVID-19 surveillance


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Jul 03, 2020
What the atomic structure of enamel tells us about tooth decay
00:22:40

On this week’s podcast, how the molecular structure of tooth enamel may impact decay, and a mysterious planetary core from a half-formed gas giant.


In this episode:


00:46 Unravelling tooth enamel

Researchers have been looking into the structure and composition of enamel in an effort to better understand tooth decay. Research Article: DeRocher et al.


07:02 Research Highlights

An adhesive patch to help heal heart-attacks, and a new technique to inspect the structure of 2D ‘wonder materials’. Research Highlight: A healing patch holds tight to a beating heartResearch Highlight: A snapshot shows off super-material only two atoms thick


09:21 Unusual planet

In the region close to stars known as the ‘hot Neptune desert’ planets of Neptune’s size are rarely found, but this week scientists have uncovered one and are trying to untangle its mysteries. Research Article: Armstrong et al.


14:52 Briefing Chat

We take a look at some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time we talk about the pitfalls of using CRISPR in human embryos, and renaming of moon craters inadvertently named after Nazi scientists. Nature News: CRISPR gene editing in human embryos wreaks chromosomal mayhemProspect Magazine: Astronomers unknowingly dedicated moon craters to Nazis. Will the next historical reckoning be at cosmic level?


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Jul 01, 2020
Coronapod: The state of the pandemic, six months in
00:32:05

In a few weeks, we’ll be wrapping up Coronapod in its current form. Please fill out our short survey to let us know your thoughts on the show.


In this episode:


03:13 What have we learnt?

We take a look back over the past six months of the pandemic, and discuss how far the world has come. It’s been a period of turmoil and science has faced an unprecedented challenge. What lessons can be learned from the epidemic so far to continue the fight in the months to come?


Financial Times: Coronavirus tracked: the latest figures as countries start to reopen

Wellcome Open Research: What settings have been linked to SARS-CoV-2 transmission clusters?


12:55 Unanswered questions

After months of intensive research, much is known about the new coronavirus – but many important questions remain unanswered. We look at the knowledge gaps researchers are trying to fill.


Nature Medicine: Real-time tracking of self-reported symptoms to predict potential COVID-19


20:36 How has lockdown affected fieldwork?

The inability to travel during lockdown has seriously hampered many researchers’ ability to gather fieldwork data. We hear from three whose work has been affected, and what this means for their projects.


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Jun 26, 2020
How playing poker can help you make decisions
00:26:39

On this week’s podcast, life lessons from poker, and keeping things civil during peer review.


In this episode:


00:44 Deciding to play poker

When writer Maria Konnikova wanted to better understand the human decision making process, she took a rather unusual step: becoming a professional poker player. We delve into her journey and find out how poker could help people make better decisions. Books and Arts: What the world needs now: lessons from a poker player


09:12 Research Highlights

A sweaty synthetic skin that can exude useful compounds, and Mars’s green atmosphere. Research Highlight: An artificial skin oozes ‘sweat’ through tiny poresResearch Highlight: The red planet has a green glow


11:21 Developing dialogues

The peer-review process is an integral part of scientific discourse, however, sometimes interactions between authors and reviews can be less than civil. How do we tread the fine line between critique and rudeness? Editorial: Peer review should be an honest, but collegial, conversation


18:47 Briefing Chat

We take a look at some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time we talk about research into racism, and a possible hint of dark matter. Nature News: What the data say about police brutality and racial bias — and which reforms might work; Nature News: Mathematicians urge colleagues to boycott police work in wake of killingsQuanta: Dark Matter Experiment Finds Unexplained Signal


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Jun 24, 2020
Coronapod: Dexamethasone, the cheap steroid that could cut coronavirus deaths
00:37:34

In this episode:


00:37 Lessons from the Ebola outbreak

We get an update on the pandemic response in the African countries still reeling from the 2014 Ebola crisis. Resource strapped and under pressure – can the lessons learned from Ebola help keep the coronavirus under control?


15:32 Dexamethasone, a breakthrough drug?

A UK-based drugs trial suggests that a cheap steroid could cut deaths by a third among the sickest COVID patients. We discuss what this could mean for the pandemic.

News: Coronavirus breakthrough: dexamethasone is first drug shown to save lives


20:06 One good thing

Our hosts pick out things that have made them smile in the last week, including altruistic bone marrow donors, and skateboarding.


22:48 The numbers don’t lie

A huge amount of projections, graphs and data have been produced during the pandemic. But how accurate are numbers and can they be relied upon?

News: Why daily death tolls have become unusually important in understanding the coronavirus pandemic


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Jun 19, 2020
Incest in the elite of Neolithic Ireland
00:29:20

This week, researchers make diamonds tough, and evidence of incest in a 5,000 year old tomb.


In this episode:


00:51 Tough versus hard

Diamonds are famed for their hardness, but they are not so resistant to fracture. Now, researchers have toughened up diamonds, which could open up new industrial applications. Research Article: Yue et al.


06:07 Research Highlights

A spacecraft helps physicists work out the lifespan of a neutron, and the icy hideaway of an endangered whale. Research Highlight: The vanishing-neutron mystery might be cracked by a robot in outer spaceResearch Highlight: A secluded icy fortress shelters rare whales


08:33 Ancient inbreeding

Analysis of the genomes of humans buried in an ancient Irish tomb has uncovered many surprises, including evidence of incest amongst the elite. Research Article: Cassidy et al.News and Views: Incest uncovered at the elite prehistoric Newgrange monument in Ireland


21:13 #ShutdownSTEM

Nature reporter Nidhi Subbaraman joins us to talk about the #ShutdownSTEM movement, and anti-black racism in academia. Editorial: Note from the editors: Nature joins #ShutDownSTEMNews: Grieving and frustrated: Black scientists call out racism in the wake of police killingsNews: Thousands of scientists worldwide to go on strike for Black livesNews: How #BlackInTheIvory put a spotlight on racism in academia


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Jun 17, 2020
Long Read Podcast: Enigmatic neutron stars may soon give up their secrets
00:15:33

An instrument on the International Space Station is providing new insights into some of the Universe’s most baffling objects.


Neutron stars have puzzled scientists for decades. It’s known that these ultra-dense objects are born from the remnants of supernovae, yet what’s under their surface, and what processes that go on within them, remain a mystery.


Now, an instrument called the Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer is providing new information to help answer these questions, ushering in a new era of research into these strange stars.


This is an audio version of our feature: The golden age of neutron-star physics has arrived

 

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Jun 15, 2020
Coronapod: The Surgisphere scandal that rocked coronavirus drug research
00:33:33

In this episode:


00:52 Testing disparities

As testing capacities increase, it is clear that not everyone has equal access. But grassroots organisations are trying to correct this inequity. We hear about one researcher’s fight to get testing to those below the poverty line in California.


09:04 The hydroxychloroquine saga continues

As a high profile study in the Lancet is retracted, the first data from clinical trials is coming in and it is not encouraging. We discuss the murky future of hydroxychloroquine as a COVID drug.

News: High-profile coronavirus retractions raise concerns about data oversight


12:31 Will the Surgisphere scandal erode trust in science?

A questionable dataset from a mysterious company has forced high-profile retractions and thrown doubt over drug trials and public health policies. What will the fallout be and can researchers weather the storm?


23:23 Back in the lab

As lockdowns ease, researchers are starting to go back to the lab. But with various restrictions in place, what does science look like in the new normal?

News: Return to the lab: scientists face shiftwork, masks and distancing as coronavirus lockdowns ease

Careers: Coronavirus diaries: back to the lab again

 

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Jun 12, 2020
The quantum space lab
00:22:13

This week, the spaceborne lab that allows investigation of quantum states, and the debate surrounding how mountain height is maintained.


Shutdown Stem

On the tenth of June, Nature joined #ShutdownStem #strike4blacklives.


Podcast: #ShutDownSTEM and the Nature Podcast


https://www.shutdownstem.com/


Editorial: Systemic racism: science must listen, learn and change


News: Thousands of scientists worldwide to go on strike for Black lives


In this episode:


01:18 Space lab

Scientists have built a lab on the international space station, allowing them to remotely investigate quantum phenomena in microgravity. Research Article: Aveline et al.News and Views: Quantum matter orbits Earth


08:37 Research Highlights

Trackable ‘barcode’ bacteria, and physicists simulate near light speed cycling. Research Highlight: ‘Barcode’ microbes could help to trace goods — from lettuce to loafersResearch Highlight: What Einstein’s theory means for a cyclist moving at almost light speed


10:48 Maintaining mountain height

For a long time many researchers have thought that mainly erosion controls the height of mountains, but new research suggests that tectonic forces play a bigger role. Research Article: Dielforder et al.News and Views: Mountain height might be controlled by tectonic force, rather than erosion


16:12 Pick of the Briefing

We pick our highlights from the Nature Briefing, including how sleep deprivation kills, and a monumental Maya structure hidden in plain sight. Quanta Magazine: Why Sleep Deprivation KillsNational...  


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Jun 11, 2020
#ShutDownSTEM and the Nature Podcast
00:01:17

On the tenth of June, Nature will be joining #ShutdownStem #strike4blacklives. We will be educating ourselves and defining actions we can take to help eradicate anti-Black racism in academia and STEM . Please join us.


https://www.shutdownstem.com/


Editorial: Systemic racism: science must listen, learn and change


News: Thousands of scientists worldwide to go on strike for Black lives

 

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Jun 09, 2020
Coronapod: The heavy toll on people of colour
00:25:16

In this episode:


00:45 Black Lives Matter

The killing of George Floyd, a black man, by police in Minnesota has sent a shockwave of anger around the globe. As unrest continues, we discuss the protests in Washington DC and ask how scientists are reacting.


04:01 The outsized toll of covid-19 on people of colour

Reports from around the globe are showing that ethnic minorities are at much higher risk of infection and death from the coronavirus. But why might that be? And what can be done about it?

News: How to address the coronavirus’s outsized toll on people of colour

World View: How environmental racism is fuelling the coronavirus pandemic


16:27 Food for thought

Richard Van Noorden suggests some inspirational listening to learn and reflect in difficult times.

Podcast: George the poet


18:27 Lessons from past pandemics

The coronavirus pandemic is just the latest of hundreds throughout history. Nick Howe interviews author Frank M Snowden about how disease has shaped society.

Books and Arts: How pandemics shape social evolution

 

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Jun 05, 2020
Lab-made skin grows its own hair
00:23:41

This week, a new method to grow hairy skin in a dish, and new research takes aim at the RNA world hypothesis.


In this episode:


00:45 Hairy Skin

Researchers may have developed a way to make skin that can grow hair in the lab, paving the way for treatment of a variety of skin disorders, and perhaps even baldness. Research Article: Lee et al.News and Views: Regenerative medicine could pave the way to treating baldness


08:56 Research Highlights

How mercury moved during the ‘Great Dying’, and the link between mobile phones and gender equality. Research Highlight: Giant eruptions belched toxic metal during the ‘Great Dying’Research Article: Rotondi et al.


11:21 Does DNA predate life?

The RNA world hypothesis posits that RNA formed spontaneously leading eventually to life. Now new research suggests that RNA and DNA formed together, before life. Research Article: Xu et al.News and Views: How DNA and RNA subunits might have formed to make the first genetic alphabet


19:25 Pick of the Briefing

We pick our highlights from the Nature Briefing, including the recent SpaceX launch, and the earliest fossil of a land animal. CBC: Scientists find oldest fossil of a land animalNature News: SpaceX to launch astronauts — and a new era of private human spaceflight


Subscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.


Other links

Video: We test a home antibody kit for tracking Covid-19 transmission

 

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Jun 03, 2020
Coronapod: The divisive hydroxychloroquine study that's triggering mass confusion
00:26:37

00:59 Chloroquine on rocky ground

President Trump's preferred coronavirus treatment is the focus of a new study suggesting it could cause more harm than good, but not everybody agrees. We discuss the fallout as trials around the world are paused and countries diverge over policy advice.

News: India expands use of controversial coronavirus drug amid safety concerns

News: Safety fears over hyped drug hydroxychloroquine spark global confusion



12:12 Are we rushing science?

Coronavirus papers are being published extremely quickly, while normally healthy scientific debate is being blown up in the world’s press. Is there a balancing act between timely research and accurate messaging?


18:49 One good thing

Our hosts pick out things that have made them smile in the last week, including hedgerow brews and a trip into the past using AI.

Recipe: Elderflower 'Champagne'

Video: Denis Shiryaev restores historic footage with AI


22:30 The latest coronavirus research papers

Noah Baker takes a look through some of the key coronavirus papers of the last few weeks.

News: Coronavirus research updates

medRxiv: Full genome viral sequences inform patterns of SARS-CoV-2 spread into and within Israel

Harvard Library: Reductions in commuting mobility predict geographic differences in SARS-CoV-2 prevalence in New York City

Science: DNA vaccine protection against SARS-CoV-2 in rhesus macaques

 

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May 29, 2020
Super-efficient catalyst boosts hopes for hydrogen fuel
00:19:37

This week, perfecting catalysts that split water using light, and the mystery of missing matter in the Universe.


In this episode:


00:44 Water splitting

After decades of research scientists have managed to achieve near perfect efficiency using a light-activated catalyst to separate hydrogen from water for fuel. Research Article: Takata et al.News and Views: An almost perfectly efficient light-activated catalyst for producing hydrogen from water


05:37 Research Highlights

The hidden water inside the earth’s core, and how working memory ‘works’ in children. Research Highlight: Our planet’s heart is wateryResearch Highlight: A child’s memory prowess is revealed by brain patterns


07:53 Measuring matter

Estimations of baryonic matter in the Universe have conflicted with observations, but now researchers have reconciled these differences. Research Article: Macquart et al.


13:42 Pick of the Briefing

We pick our highlights from the Nature Briefing, including the possibility of a black hole in our solar system, and the biting bees that force plants to bloom. Physics World: If ‘Planet Nine’ is a primordial black hole, could we detect it with a fleet of tiny spacecraft?; Scientific American: Bumblebees Bite Plants to Force Them to Flower (Seriously)

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May 27, 2020
Coronapod: Hope and caution greet vaccine trial result, and Trump vs the WHO
00:34:15

01:38 Trump vs the WHO

President Trump has given the WHO an ultimatum in a tweet, threatening to pull out of the organisation within 30 days unless unclear demands are met. We discuss what this means for the pandemic, the USA and the future of international health cooperation.


12:06 Where are we with vaccines?

The first results from vaccine trials are in and they are encouraging, but scientists are still urging caution. We hear the lowdown on the types of vaccines being developed and what hope there is of rolling them out any time soon. 

News: Coronavirus vaccine trials have delivered their first results — but their promise is still unclear

News: The race for coronavirus vaccines: a graphical guide

News: If a coronavirus vaccine arrives, can the world make enough?


25:20 One good thing

Our hosts pick out things that have made them smile in the last week, including hopeful antibody research, at-home sketch comedy and printable board games.

News: Potent human antibodies could inspire a vaccine

Video: Whiskers R we - SNL

Video:The wild affordable world of 1 Player Print’n’Play Games

Video:MORE of the Very Best Solitaire Print'n'Play Games

Video: Marble run league

Video: BBC goals at home (Only available in the UK)


30:04 The latest coronavirus research papers

Noah Baker takes a look through some of the key coronavirus papers of the last few weeks.

News: Coronavirus research updates

medRxivSaliva is more sensitive for SARS-CoV-2 detection in COVID-19 patients than nasopharangel swabs

Nature: Effect of non-pharmaceutical interventions to contain COVID-19 in China

Science: Changes in contact patterns shape the dynamics of the COVID-19 outbreak in China

New England Journal of Medicine: 


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May 22, 2020
A synthetic eye that 'sees' like a human
00:22:16

This week, crafting an artificial eye with the benefits of a human's, and understanding how disk-galaxies formed by peering back in time.


In this episode:


00:45 Biomimetic eye

Researchers fabricate an artificial eye complete with a human-like retina. Research Article: Gu et al.News and Views: Artificial eye boosted by hemispherical retina


09:27 Research Highlights

Dazzling elephant seals to avoid predation, and helping blind people ‘see’ through brain stimulation. Research Highlight: Mighty seals humbled by prey that flickers and flashesResearch Highlight: Blind people ‘read’ letters traced on their brains with electricity


11:36 Early disk-galaxy

There’s an open question about how disk-galaxies form, but now new observations are pointing to an answer, from the very early Universe. Research Article: Neeleman et al.News and Views: Galaxy disk observed to have formed shortly after the Big Bang


17:47 Pick of the Briefing

We pick our highlights from the Nature Briefing, including a HIV ‘vaccine’, and incredibly hardy bacteria. Science: Long-acting injectable drug prevents HIV infectionsQuanta Magazine: Inside Deep Undersea Rocks, Life Thrives Without the Sun

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May 20, 2020
Coronapod: The misinformation pandemic, and science funding fears
00:31:35

With questionable coronavirus content flooding airwaves and online channels, what’s being done to limit its impact? 


In this episode:

 

00:57 The epidemiology of misinformation

As the pandemic spreads, so does a tidal wave of misinformation and conspiracy theories. We discuss how researchers' are tracking the spread of questionable content, and ways to limit its impact.


News: Anti-vaccine movement could undermine efforts to end coronavirus pandemic, researchers warn


Nature Video: Infodemic: Coronavirus and the fake news pandemic

 

17:55 One good thing

Our hosts pick out things that have made them smile in the last week, including walks in new places, an update on the Isolation Choir, and a very long music playlist.


Video: The Isolation Choir sing What a Wonderful World


Spotify: Beastie Boys Book Complete Songs


22:30 Funding fears for researchers

Scientists around the world are concerned about the impacts that the pandemic will have on their funding and research projects. We hear from two who face uncertainty, and get an update on the plans put in place by funding organisations to support their researchers.



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May 15, 2020
The super-sleuth who spots trouble in science papers, and the puzzle of urban smog
00:20:10

This week, Elisabeth Bik tells us about her work uncovering potential image manipulation, and a new route for particulate pollution formation.


In this episode:


00:45 Seeing double

Elisabeth Bik spends her days identifying duplicated images in science papers. She tells us about her efforts, and why they’re important. Feature: Meet this super-spotter of duplicated images in science papersNews: Publishers launch joint effort to tackle altered images in research papers


08:11 Research Highlights

New insights on the mysterious Tully Monster, and how football fans can stoke air pollution. Research Highlight: Unmasking the Tully Monster: fossils help to tackle a decades-old mysteryResearch Highlight: The meaty link between a city’s football matches and its foul air


10:29 Understanding air pollution

Particulate pollution is a serious threat to human health, but the way that new particles form is poorly understood. This week, new research suggests a new mechanism for it to happen. Research article: Wang et al.News and Views: Airborne particles might grow fast in cities


15:09 Pick of the Briefing

We pick some highlights from the Nature Briefing, including the closest discovered black hole to Earth, and how wriggly worms are helping physicists model microscopic processes. National Geographic: Closest black hole to Earth found 'hiding in plain sight'Physics: Worm Viscosity

Subscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.


Other links:

Our latest video - Infodemic: Coronavirus and the fake news pandemic

 

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May 13, 2020
Coronapod: The dangers of ignoring outbreaks in homeless shelters, plus coronavirus and drug abuse
00:28:02

Outbreaks among those unable to isolate are spreading under the radar. We hear about the researchers scrambling to get a handle on the situation.


In this episode:


01:02 How is coronavirus spreading in group settings?

In order to successfully stop the coronavirus pandemic, researchers have to understand how the virus is spreading among groups unable to isolate. We hear about efforts to uncover levels of infection among homeless populations in the US, and the challenges associated with doing so.


News: Ignoring outbreaks in homeless shelters is proving perilous


16:49 One good thing

Our hosts pick out things that have made them smile in the last week, including a virtual tour of the world, dark humour, and experimental cocktails.


Rijksmuseum Masterpieces Up Close


20:04 Fears rise at US drug-abuse research institute


Nora Volkow is director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). She tells us about her concerns for people living with substance-use disorders during the pandemic, and the damaging effect of lockdowns on NIDA’s research.

News: The psychiatrist at the centre of the opioid crisis



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May 08, 2020
07 May 2020: Galileo and the science deniers, and physicists probe the mysterious pion
00:22:16

This week, a new way to study elusive subatomic particles - pions, and the story of Galileo remains relevant in a time of modern science denialism.


In this episode:


00:46 Probing pions

Pions are incredibly unstable and difficult-to-study subatomic particles. Now researchers have come up with a clever way to examine them - by sticking them into helium atoms. Research Article: Hori et al.


08:28 Research Highlights

A colourful way to cool buildings, and the rapid expansion of cities. Research Highlight: A rainbow of layered paints could help buildings to keep their coolResearch Highlight: Urban sprawl overspreads Earth at an unprecedented speed


10:46 The life of Galileo

A new biography of Galileo Galilei examines some of the myths about his life and draws parallels with problems facing scientists today. Books and Arts: Galileo’s story is always relevant


16:42 Pick of the Briefing

We pick our highlights from the Nature Briefing, including botanical graffiti, and rock-eating bacteria. The Guardian: 'Not just weeds': how rebel botanists are using graffiti to name forgotten floraScientific American: Scientists Waited Two and a Half Years to See whether Bacteria Can Eat Rock

Subscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.


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May 06, 2020
Coronapod: What use are contact tracing apps? And new hopes for coronavirus drug remdesivir
00:31:57

The Coronapod team pick through the latest news, plus we hear from the researchers making lemonade out of lockdown lemons.


In this episode:


01:10 Can contact-tracing apps help?

Governments around the world are banking on smartphone apps to help end the spread of the coronavirus. But how effective might these apps might be? What are the risks? And how should they fit into wider public health strategies?


Editorial: Show evidence that apps for COVID-19 contact-tracing are secure and effective


13:30 Antiviral remdesivir shows promise

Early results from a US trial of the antiviral drug remdesivir suggest it shortens recovery time for patients with COVID-19. We unpick the findings.


News: Hopes rise for coronavirus drug remdesivir


16:52 One good thing

Our hosts pick out things that have made them smile in the last week, including blooming trust in scientists, cooking experiments, and a neighbourhood coming together to clap for healthcare workers.


21:34 Unexpected opportunities

We hear from three researchers making the most of lockdown, studying tiny earthquakes, building balcony-based citizen science projects, or enlisting gamers to fight the coronavirus.


Fold-it, the protein-folding computer game


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Nature Podcast: Callused feet, and protein-based archaeology

 

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May 01, 2020
30 April 2020: A sniff test for consciousness, and how to cut antibiotics use — with vaccines
00:23:03

This week, how the ‘sniff-response’ can help clinicians determine a patient's state of consciousness, and how vaccines could help drive down antibiotic use.


In this episode:


00:45 Sniffing out consciousness

Researchers have found that the sniff reflex can indicate whether a patient is in a vegetative state, and even the likelihood that they will recover consciousness. Research Article: Arzi et al.


08:37 Research Highlights

The stupefying effect of carbon dioxide, and a chameleon gemstone that tricks your eyes. Research Highlight: Rising carbon dioxide levels will make us stupiderResearch Highlight: How a chameleon gemstone changes from red to green


11:12 Vaccination and antibiotic usage

Looking at data from low- and middle-income countries, researchers have determined that vaccination could prevent millions of infections currently treated by antibiotics. Research Article: Lewnard et al.


16:49 Pick of the Briefing

We pick our highlights from the Nature Briefing, including the forgotten mother of climate change science, and a new global study on insect declines. Chemistry World: Eunice Foote: the mother of climate changeScience: Meta-analysis reveals declines in terrestrial but increases in freshwater insect abundances

Subscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.


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Shamini’s latest video on a newly discovered Spinosaurus skeleton, which suggests that it had a fin-like tail that would have helped it swim and hunt.


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Apr 29, 2020
Coronapod: The race to expand antibody testing
00:32:56

Benjamin Thompson, Noah Baker, and Amy Maxmen discuss the role of antibody tests in controlling the pandemic, and how public-health spending could curtail an economic crisis. Also on the show, the open hardware community's efforts to produce medical equipment.


In this episode:


02:08 Betting on antibodies

Antibody tests could play a key role in understanding how the virus has spread through populations, and in ending lockdowns. We discuss concerns over their reliability, how they could be used, and the tantalising possibility of immunity.


News: The researchers taking a gamble with antibody tests for coronavirus


10:25 Economy vs public health, a false dichotomy

Jim Yong Kim, former president of the World Bank, argues that strong investment in public health is crucial to halt the ongoing pandemic and to prevent a global financial crisis. We discuss his work with US governors to massively increase contact tracing, and his thoughts on how researchers can help steer political thinking.


News Q&A: Why the World Bank ex-chief is on a mission to end coronavirus transmission


19:00 One good thing this week

Our hosts talk about staying positive, and pick a few things that have made them smile in the last 7 days, including a tiny addition to the team, a newspaper produced by children in lockdown, and a gardening update.


Six Feet of Separation, the newspaper staffed by kids


22:51 Open hardware

Researchers are stepping up efforts to design and produce ventilators and personal protective equipment for frontline medical staff. We hear how the open hardware movement is aiding these efforts, and the regulations that teams need to consider if their designs are to make it into use.


Technology Feature: Open science takes on the coronavirus pandemic


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Apr 24, 2020
23 April 2020: Denisovan DNA in modern Europeans, and the birth of an unusual celestial object
00:23:01

This week, evidence of ancient hominin DNA in modern human genomes, and the origin of a snowman-shaped object at the edge of the solar system.


In this episode:


00:45 Intermixing of ancient hominins

By combing through the DNA of over 27,000 modern day Icelanders, researchers have uncovered new insights about the ancient hominin species who interbred with Homo sapiensResearch Article: Skov et al.


08:05 Research Highlights

The scent of lemur love, a hidden Viking trade route, and ‘gargantuan’ hail. Research Highlight: Lemurs’ love language is fragranceResearch Highlight: Vikings’ lost possessions mark a long-hidden early trade routeResearch Highlight: Enormous hailstones inspire a new scientific size category: ‘gargantuan’


11:44 The origin of Arrokoth

In 2019, the New Horizon Spacecraft took images of Arrokoth - an unusual, bi-lobal object found in the Kuiper belt. Now, researchers believe they’ve figured out how it formed. Research Article: Grishin et al.


17:29 Pick of the Briefing

We pick some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This week we discuss why the Universe may be lopsided, and why water could actually be two different liquid states. Scientific American: Do We Live in a Lopsided Universe?Chemistry World: The weirdness of water

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Apr 22, 2020
Coronapod: Troubling news
00:29:32

Benjamin Thompson, Noah Baker, and Amy Maxmen discuss Trump withholding funds from the WHO, and how COVID-19 kills. We also hear about controlling misinformation while communicating risk.


In this episode:


01:15 Understanding bottlenecks

After listening to last week's episode of Coronapod, researchers in the USA were inspired to start collecting data about the challenges facing labs carrying out testing. After more than 4,000 responses to their online survey, we discuss their goals.


03:08 A hole in the WHO’s funding

US President Donald Trump has announced plans to withhold funding for the WHO, pending a review of the organization’s handling of the pandemic. We discuss the decision and ask what it means for the global response to COVID-19.


News: Nature's rolling coronavirus news blog


05:55 Responding to the immune system

We investigate the role of the immune system in the death of COVID-19 patients and what this could mean for treatments. Could some therapeutics actually be undermining the body’s ability to fight the virus?


News: How does COVID-19 kill? Uncertainty is hampering doctors’ ability to choose treatments


13:54 One good thing this week

Our hosts pick out things that have made them smile in the last 7 days, including seasonal memories from Sierra Leone, a trip to the supermarket, and the 99-year old war veteran who has raised millions for charity.


BBC News: Coronavirus: Capt Tom Moore's NHS fundraiser hits £17m


18:33 Communicating complex data

Clearly communicating risks and evidence is key for governments and other organisations if they are to best inform the public during the pandemic. But what is the best way to do it? We hear the methods that communications experts and behavioural scientists recommend to keep the public informed, and keep misinformation at bay.


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Apr 17, 2020
Coronapod: An untapped resource
00:30:46

Benjamin Thompson, Noah Baker, and Amy Maxmen discuss the labs struggling to get involved in diagnostic testing, and should you be wearing a mask?


In this episode:


02:07 A drive to diagnose

Many research labs are pivoting from their normal work to offer diagnostic testing for COVID-19. We discuss how to go about retooling a lab, the hurdles researchers are facing and why, in some cases, tests are not being taken up.

News: Thousands of coronavirus tests are going unused in US labs


14:18 Masking the issue?

There has been conflicting advice on whether people should wear masks to protect themselves during the pandemic. We look at some of the take home messages from the debate.

Research article: Leung et al.

News: Is the coronavirus airborne? Experts can’t agree


18:36 One good thing this week

Our hosts pick out things they’ve seen that have made them smile in the last 7 days, including a local superhero, and a caring choir who have release their first song.

Reuters: Spider-Man to the rescue! Superhero jogger cheers kids in England

Video: The Isolation Choir sing Wild Mountain Thyme


22:08 Accelerating vaccine development

Around the world, research groups are rushing to create a vaccine against the coronavirus. We hear about one group’s effort, and how vaccine development is being sped up, without sacrificing safety steps.

News: If a coronavirus vaccine arrives, can the world make enough?


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Apr 10, 2020
09 April 2020: A plastic-recycling enzyme, and supercooled molecules
00:16:38

This week, a new enzyme speeds up the breakdown of plastic bottles, and a method to cool molecules to a fraction above absolute zero.


In this episode:


01:18 A PET recycling enzyme

Researchers have engineered an enzyme that effectively breaks down the plastic PET into its constituent monomers. This could allow for more complete recycling of bottles and clothes. Research Article: Tournier et al.


06:41 Research Highlights

The shocking lengths humans will go to to satisfy their curiosity, and the reasons for elevated methane emissions at Oktoberfest. Research Highlight: Humans opt to brave electric shock to satisfy their curiosity; Research Highlight: Munich’s Oktoberfest is a real gas


09:15 Supercool molecules

Researchers have used a technique called ‘collision cooling’ to chill molecules to a few millionths of a degree above absolute zero, which could allow observations of difficult-to-study quantum mechanics. Research Article: Son et al.


14:46 Research Highlights

Neither supermassive, nor super small, the mystery of the elusive intermediate sized black-hole has been solved. Research Highlight: Elusive middle-weight black hole is caught shredding a star


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Apr 08, 2020
Coronapod: Ramping up responses
00:36:09

Benjamin Thompson, Noah Baker, and Amy Maxmen discuss the latest on the British response, and what low- and middle-income countries have done to prepare for the pandemic.


In this episode:


01:33 Testing in the UK

This week, the UK health secretary announced plans to further ramp up testing for COVID-19, with the aim of preforming 100,000 tests a day in England by the end of April. We discuss these plans and why testing remains a key weapon in the fight against the virus.


11:37 Pandemic preparation in poorer countries

COVID-19 cases have started to be reported in many low- and middle-income countries. We hear how a few of these nations are preparing and what might happen if these efforts fail.

News article: How poorer countries are scrambling to prevent a coronavirus disaster


26:43 One good thing this week

As our hosts end another week of working from home, they pick out things they’ve seen that have made them smile in the last 7 days.

Video: Samuel L. Jackson reads Stay the F*** at home

Evening Standard: Medical fetish site says it's giving scrubs to NHS hospital amid coronavirus crisis

NPR: U.K. Family's Lockdown-Themed Rendition Of 'Les Mis' Is A Delight

Twitter: Patrick Stewart reads one of Shakespeare’s sonnets each day


28:54 The effect of the COVID-19 outbreak on research animals

With stay-at-home orders in effect in many parts of the world, scientists are making difficult decisions to safeguard the welfare of their lab animals. We hear from one researcher who plans to care for his fruit flies at home, and another who has had to euthanize many of the mouse colonies used in his institution’s research.


News: Cull, release or bring them home: Coronavirus crisis forces hard decisions for labs with animals



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Apr 03, 2020
02 April 2020: Dating an ancient hominid skull, and an ancient Antarctic rainforest
00:17:37

This week, reassessing the age of the ‘Broken Hill skull’, and unearthing evidence of an ancient forest near the South Pole.


In this episode:


01:25 A skull’s place in history

After nearly a century scientists believe they’ve finally pinned down an age for the ‘Broken Hill skull’ hominid specimen. Research Article: Grun et al.


07:44 Research Highlights

A simple way to detect early signs of cancer, and 3D printed soft brain implants. Research Highlight: A blood test finds deadly cancers before symptoms startResearch Article: Yuk et al.


09:51 Ancient Antarctic rainforest

Digging deep below the sea-floor, researchers have uncovered evidence of a verdant forest that existed on Antarctica around 90 million years ago. Research Article: Klages et al.


15:47 Research Highlights

Walking more, regardless of the intensity, may improve health. Research Highlight: More steps a day might keep the doctor away

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Apr 01, 2020
Coronapod: Old treatments and new hopes
00:26:12

Benjamin Thompson, Noah Baker, and Amy Maxmen discuss efforts to develop treatments for COVID-19.


In this episode:


02:00 A push for plasma

In New York, hospitals are preparing to infuse patients with the antibody-rich blood plasma of people who have recovered from COVID-19. This approach has been used during disease outbreaks for over a century and we discuss how it works, and how effective is might be.


We also talk about how drug trials for potential treatments are progressing, how scientists are pulling together, and what COVID-19 outbreaks on cruise ships are telling epidemiologists.

News article: How blood from coronavirus survivors might save lives; News article: What the cruise-ship outbreaks reveal about COVID-19


18:44 Switching focus

In the wake of the outbreak, academics are coming together to meet the challenge of the pandemic. We speak to an immunologist and a bioengineer who have changed their research focus and are putting their expertise into action.


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Mar 27, 2020
25 March 2020: Ultra-fast electrical switches, and computing heart health
00:16:02

This week, a speedy, yet simple switch, and a video-based AI helps assess heart health.


In this episode:


01:57 Speedy switches

Researchers have developed an ultra-fast electrical switch that they hope can be used in communication and imaging applications. Research Article: Nikoo et al.


08:14 Research Highlights

Using sound to estimate glacial retreat, and building a dodgier drone. Research Highlight: Underwater microphones listen as as glacier retreatsResearch article: Falanga et al.


10:32 Algorithmic heart diagnosis

Scientists have developed a new algorithm which calculates the amount of blood pumped by the heart beat by beat. Research Article: Ouyang et al.News and Views: AI tracks a beating heart’s function over time

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Mar 25, 2020
Podcast Extra: Rosamund Pike on portraying Marie Curie
00:13:02

Radioactive is a new biopic on Marie Skłodowska Curie with Rosamund Pike taking on the role of Curie. This Podcast Extra is an extended version of reporter Lizzie Gibney's interview with Rosamund, in which they talk about stepping into the shoes of the scientific giant.

 

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Mar 21, 2020
Coronapod: “Test, test, test!”
00:21:17

In the first of our new podcast series, Benjamin Thompson, Noah Baker, and Amy Maxmen discuss the epidemiology needed to control the Covid-19 outbreak.


In this episode:


03:57 Testing times

Case numbers of Covid-19 have leapt around the world in recent days, but how many undetected cases are out there? We talk about the urgent need to deploy two of the cornerstones of effective epidemiology – testing and contact tracing – and discuss why these measures aren’t being rolled out worldwide.


News article: Scientists exposed to coronavirus wonder: why weren’t we notified?; News article: South Korea is reporting intimate details of COVID-19 cases: has it helped?; News explainer: What China’s coronavirus response can teach the rest of the world


14:23 Global governance in the wake of Covid-19


The International Health Regulations (IHR) were set up to help countries prepare for, and respond to, public-health emergencies. Rebecca Katz, a health security researcher specialising in emerging infectious diseases, tells us how the IHR are holding up during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Worldview: Pandemic policy can learn from arms control


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Mar 20, 2020
19 March 2020: Rosamund Pike in Radioactive, and the resurgence of Russian science
00:19:33

This week, we speak to Rosamund Pike about her experience portraying Marie Skłodowska Curie, and we find out how science in Russia is changing after years of decline.


In this episode:


01:43 Radioactive

British actor Rosamund Pike tells us about her new film, and her experience of portraying double Nobel-Laureate Marie Curie. Arts Review: Marie Curie biopic should have trusted pioneer’s passion


10:17 Research Highlights

The neural circuitry involved in stopping, and a jelly-like substance that cleans paintings. Research Highlight: A neural highway to human motor controlResearch article: Mastrangelo et al.


12:27 Russian science

Decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian science may be having a revival. News Feature: Russia aims to revive science after era of stagnationEditorial: The price of Russia–China research collaborations

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Mar 18, 2020
Podcast Extra: Coronavirus - science in the pandemic
00:18:12

In this Podcast Extra, we hear from epidemiologists, genomicists and social scientists about how they're working to tackle the coronavirus and what they've learned so far.

 

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Mar 17, 2020
Long Read Podcast: Are feelings more than skin deep?
00:14:55

Research in the 1960s and 1970s suggested that emotional expressions – smiling when happy, scowling when angry, and so on – were universal. This idea stood unchallenged for a generation.


But a new cohort of psychologists and cognitive scientists are revisiting the data. Many researchers now think that the picture is a lot more complicated, and that facial expressions vary widely between contexts and cultures.


This is an audio version of our feature: Why faces don’t always tell the truth about feelings, written by Douglas Heaven and read by Kerri Smith.

 

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Mar 13, 2020
12 March 2020: An ancient bird trapped in amber, and life beneath the ocean floor
00:27:24

This week, a newly discovered bird species from the time of the dinosaurs, and microbes hundreds of metres below the ocean floor.


In this episode:


00:44 A tiny, toothy, ancient bird

Researchers have found a perfectly preserved bird fossil trapped in amber, with some rather unusual features.


The paper covered in this video has been retracted and the contents of this video are incorrect. New evidence suggests that the specimen might actually be a lizard, and not a bird-like dinosaur.


Read more in this article. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02214-7

The retracted paper can be found here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2068-4


08:09 Research Highlights

Dental hygiene in the time of the Vikings, and wildebeest bones feed an African ecosystem. Research Article: Bertilsson et alResearch Article: Subalusky et al.


10:21 Deep sea life

Scientists have uncovered traces of life 750m below the ocean’s surface. Research article: Li et al.


17:31 News Chat

Updates on the Coronavirus outbreak, and peer review in predatory journals. News: Coronavirus: latest news on spreading infectionNews: Labs rush to study coronavirus in transgenic animals — some are in short supply


 

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Mar 11, 2020
05 March 2020: Ultrafast machine vision, and quicker crystal creation
00:24:23

This week, improving computers’ image identification, and a new method for growing crystals.


00:44 Upgrading computer sight

Researchers have designed a sensor that allows machines to assess images in nanoseconds. Research Article: Mennel et al.News and Views: In-sensor computing for machine vision


06:51 Research Highlights

Calorie restriction’s effects on rat cells, and the dwindling of sandy seashores. Research Highlight: Old age’s hallmarks are delayed in dieting ratsResearch Highlight: Sandy beaches are endangered worldwide as the climate changes


08:53 Crafting crystals

To understand the structure of materials, researchers often have to grow them in crystal form. A new method aims to speed up this process. Research article: Sun et al.


14:48 News Chat

Coronavirus outbreak updates, and climate change’s role in the Australian bush fires. News: Coronavirus: latest news on spreading infectionNews: Climate change made Australia's 'unprecedented' bushfires 30% more likely

 

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Mar 04, 2020
Backchat: Covering coronavirus
00:15:01

In this edition of Backchat we take a deep dive into Nature's coverage of coronavirus. As cases climb, what are some of the challenges involved in reporting on the virus?

 

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Feb 28, 2020
27 February 2020: Mapping fruit flies’ neural circuitry, and perfecting the properties of metallic glass
00:21:21

This week, the brain pathways of egg laying in fruit flies, and preventing fractures in metallic glass.


In this episode:


00:46 Working out the wiring behind fruit fly behaviour

Researchers have identified a neural circuit linking mating and egg laying in female fruit flies. Research Article: Wang et al.


06:01 Research Highlights

Ancient, cave-dwelling cockroaches, and hairy moths dampen sound. Research Highlight: Cockroaches preserved in amber are the world’s oldest cave dwellers; Research Highlight: Stealth flyers: moths’ fuzz is superior acoustic camouflage


07:57 Making better metallic glass

Metallic glasses have many desirable properties, but these materials are prone to fracturing. Now, a new manufacturing process may have overcome this issue. Research article: Pan et al.News and Views: Metallic glasses rejuvenated to harden under strain


13:47 News Chat

Coronavirus outbreak updates, a survey shows Indian bird numbers are in decline, and the genomes of New York rats. News: Coronavirus: latest news on spreading infectionNews: Hundreds of bird species in India are decliningNews: Genomes reveal how New York City’s rats thrive in the urban jungle

 

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Feb 26, 2020
Podcast Extra: ‘There is lots of anxiety’: a scientist’s view from South Korea
00:05:10

In recent days, the number of coronavirus cases have surged in South Korea.


In this Podcast Extra Nick Howe speaks to Bartosz Gryzbowski, a researcher based in the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, which is just 60km away from epicentre of the South Korean outbreak. He explains how the outbreak has affected his research and what the atmosphere is like there at the moment.

 

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Feb 26, 2020
20 February 2020: Improving battery charging, and harnessing energy from the air
00:27:52

This week, machine learning helps batteries charge faster, and using bacterial nanowires to generate electricity from thin air.


In this episode:


00:46 Better battery charging

A machine learning algorithm reveals how to quickly charge batteries without damaging them. Research Article: Attia et al.


07:12 Research Highlights

Deciphering mouse chit-chat, and strengthening soy glue. Research Highlight: The ‘silent’ language of mice is decoded at last; Research Article: Gu et al.


09:21 Harnessing humidity

A new device produces electricity using water in the air. Research Article: Liu et al.


16:30 News Chat

Coronavirus outbreak updates, the global push to conserve biodiversity, and radar reveals secrets in an ancient Egyptian tomb. News: Coronavirus: latest news on spreading infection; News: China takes centre stage in global biodiversity push; News: Is this Nefertiti’s tomb? Radar clues reignite debate over hidden chambers

 

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Feb 19, 2020
13 February 2020: The puzzling structures of muddled materials, and paving the way for the quantum internet
00:26:49

This week, uncovering the structure of materials with useful properties, and quantum entanglement over long distances.


In this episode:


00:45 Analysing Prussian blues

Analogues of the paint pigment Prussian blue are used in a variety of chemical processes. Now, researchers have uncovered their atomic structure. Research Article: Simonov et al.News and Views: Ordered absences observed in porous framework materials


08:17 Research Highlights

Teenagers’ natural sleep cycles impact on academic performance, and an extinct, giant rodent with a surprisingly tiny brain. Research Highlight: A teenager’s body clock can ring in school successResearch Highlight: Giant extinct rodent was all brawn and little brain


10:49 Distant entanglement

Researchers have demonstrated quantum entanglement between two points separated by 50 km of fibre optic cables. Research Article: Yu et al.


17:17 News Chat

The latest on the coronavirus outbreak, and gene editing gets an upgrade. News: Coronavirus: latest news on spreading infectionNews: Super-precise CRISPR tool enhanced by enzyme engineering

 

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Feb 12, 2020
06 February 2020: Out-of-office emails and work-life-balance, and an update on the novel coronavirus outbreak
00:25:39

This week, how setting an out-of-office email could help promote a kinder academic culture.


In this episode:


00:47 Being truly out of office

Last year, a viral tweet about emails sparked a deeper conversation about academics’ work-life-balance. Could email etiquette help tip the balance? Careers Article: Out of office replies and what they can say about you


09:35 Research Highlights

Finding the ‘greenest’ oranges, and the benefits of ‘baby talk’. Research Article: Bell and HorvathResearch Highlight: Babies benefit when Mum and Dad are fluent in ‘baby talk’


12:06 News Chat

Updates on the novel coronavirus, assessing Iran’s nuclear capabilities, and the potential impacts of Brexit on UK research. News: Coronavirus: latest news on spreading infection; News: How quickly can Iran make a nuclear bomb?News: Brexit is happening: what does it mean for science?




 

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Feb 05, 2020
30 January 2020: Linking Australian bushfires to climate change, and Asimov's robot ethics
00:28:22

This week, establishing the role of climate change in Australian bushfires, and revisiting Isaac Asimov’s ethical rules for robots.



In this episode:


00:46 Behind the bushfires

Researchers are working to establish the role that climate change is playing in the bushfires that are raging across Australia. News Feature: The race to decipher how climate change influenced Australia’s record firesEditorial: Australia: show the world what climate action looks like


10:02 Research Highlights

The debate around how Vesuvius claimed its victims, and an ancient mummy speaks. Research Highlight: Vitrified brains and baked bones tell the story of Vesuvius deathsResearch Article: Howard et al.


12:21 Asimov’s legacy

This year marks the centenary of Isaac Asimov’s birth. We reflect on the impact of his writing on the field of robotics. Essay: Isaac Asimov: centenary of the great explainer


21:00 News Chat

The latest on a new virus from Wuhan in China, and social scientists' battle with bots. News: Coronavirus: latest news on spreading infection; News: Social scientists battle bots to glean insights from online chatter

 

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Jan 29, 2020
23 January: How stress can cause grey hair, and the attitude needed to tackle climate change
00:26:13

This week, why stress makes mice turn grey, and how to think about climate change.


In this episode:


00:45 Going grey

Anecdotal evidence has long suggested stressas a cause of grey hair. Now, a team of researchers have showed experimental evidence to suggest this is the case. Research Article: Zhang et al.News & Views: How the stress of fight or flight turns hair white


08:39 Research Highlights

Ancient bones suggest that giant ground sloths moved in herds,plus an atomic way to check for whiskey fakes. Research Highlight: A bone bed reveals mass death of herd of giant ground slothsResearch Highlight: Nuclear-bomb carbon unmasks fraudulent luxury whisky


10:40 Climate optimism

To tackle climate change, the former UN secretary for climate change argues that the biggest change needs to be mindset. Comment: Paris taught me how to do what is necessary to combat climate change


18:09 News Chat

The latest on a new virus from Wuhan in China, and insights from ancient African genomes. News: China virus latest: first US case confirmedResearch Article: Lipson et al.

 

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Jan 22, 2020
16 January 2020: Strange objects at the centre of the galaxy, and improving measurements of online activity
00:25:32

In this episode:

 

00:45 Observing the centre of the galaxy

Researchers have uncovered a population of dust-enshrouded objects orbiting the supermassive black hole at the centre of the galaxy.

Research Article: Ciurlo et al.

 

06:34 Research Highlights

A London landmark’s height lends itself to a physics experiment, and generous behaviour in parrots. Research Highlight: An iconic structure in London moonlights as a scientific tool; Research Highlight: Parrots give each other gifts without promise of reward

 

09:00 The human ‘screenome’ project

To understand the effects of online media consumption, researchers argue that the way it’s measured needs to change. Comment: Time for the Human Screenome Project

 

17:26 News Chat

A decline in human body temperature, and a new report on research culture. News: Not so hot: US data suggests human bodies are cooling down; News: Stressful, aggressive, damaging: huge survey reveals toils of scientists’ working lives

 

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Jan 15, 2020
09 January 2020: A look ahead at science in 2020
00:10:33

In this episode of the podcast, Nature reporter Davide Castelvecchi joins us to talk about the big science events to look out for in 2020.

 

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Jan 08, 2020
01 January 2020: Our reporters’ top picks of 2019
00:38:50

In this special round-up episode of the Nature Podcast, our reporters choose their favourite podcast piece of 2019.


In this episode:


00:33 A sole sensation

A study of people who do and don't wear shoes looks into whether calluses make feet less sensitive. Nature Podcast: 26 June 2019; Research article: Holowka et al.; News and Views: Your sensitive sole


08:56 The make up of the far side of the Moon

Initial observations from the first lander to touch down on the far side of the Moon. Nature Podcast: 15 May 2019; Research article: Li et al.


15:43 Growth Mindset

How a one hour course could improve academic achievement. Nature Podcast: 07 August 2019; Research article: Yeager et al.


27:44 ‘Manferences’

Nature investigates the prevalence of conferences where most of the speakers are male. Nature Podcast: 11 September 2019; News Feature: How to banish manels and manferences from scientific meetings


34:02 Q&A with Nobel Prize winner John Goodenough

We talk to John Goodenough, who was jointly awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his role in the development of the lithium-ion battery. Podcast Extra: 09 October 2019

 

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Jan 01, 2020
Nature PastCast, December 1920: The Quantum Theory
00:12:28

This year, Nature celebrates its 150th birthday. To mark this anniversary we’re rebroadcasting episodes from our PastCast series, highlighting key moments in the history of science.


In this episode, we’re heading back to the early twentieth century, when physicists had become deeply entangled in the implications of the quantum theory. At its smallest scales was the world continuous? Or built of discrete units? It all began with Max Planck. His Nobel Prize was the subject of a Nature news article in 1920.


This episode was first broadcast in December 2013.


From the archive

Nature 16 December 1920

 

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Dec 27, 2019
Podcast Extra: From climate lawyer to climate activist
00:18:12

2019 will likely go down as a pivotal year for public discourse on climate change. It was the year of Greta Thunberg, the climate school strikes, and Extinction Rebellion. The global activist movement has gained support from a range of influential people, including renowned environmental lawyer Farhana Yamin.


In this Podcast Extra, Nature's Chief Opinion Editor Sara Abdulla meets with Farhana to discuss why she ditched resolutions in favour of activism. This is an extended version of an interview originally broadcast in September.


Comment: Why I broke the law for climate change

 

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Dec 23, 2019
Podcast Extra: Epigenetics
00:11:02

As part of Nature's 150th anniversary celebrations, Nick Howe dives into the topic of epigenetics.


Since its origin in 1942, the term 'epigenetics' has been repeatedly defined and redefined. There's always been hype around the field, but what actually is epigenetics and how much does it influence our genes?


In this Podcast Extra, Nick Howe speaks to Edith Heard, Director General of the EMBL, and Giacomo Cavalli, from the Institute of Human Genetics, to guide us through these questions and find out about the history and future of epigenetics.

 

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Dec 20, 2019
19 December 2019: The three-body problem, and festive fun
00:32:28

We’ve launched our 2019 listener survey. We want to know what you think of the show to help us make a great podcast. You can find the survey here. Thanks!


This week, a solution to a centuries-old physics problem, and holiday shenanigans.


In this episode:


00:51 Disentangling three bodies

Researchers have been working to unpick a problem that has stumped scientists since the 1600s. Research Article: Stone and Leigh


08:50 Frosty the Snowman

The first of our festive science songs, about how a certain snowman is faring under climate change. Scroll to the transcript section below for the lyrics.


11:00 Festive quiz show

Our reporters battle it out to be crowned as this year’s quiz champion. Can they describe some of the top news headlines without saying certain important words? We find out.


19:21 Carol of M87

Our second song is about the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration’s imaging of the supermassive black hole at the centre of the M87 galaxy. Scroll to the transcript section below for the lyrics.


20:33 News Chat

We hear about some of the people on Nature’s 10 this year. Feature: Nature’s 10: Ten people who mattered this year


30:00 Rockin’ Around Supremacy

For our final song, we hark back to October, when Google claimed to have achieved quantum supremacy. Scroll to the transcript section below for the lyrics.


TRANSCRIPT


Frosty the Snowman lyrics:

Frosty the Snowman was a jolly, happy soul

But the smile wore off as the globe got hot

‘Cause the world used too much coal.


Frosty the Snowman is a fairy tale they say

He was made of snow

But the kids won’t know ‘cause it’s them who have to pay.


Gonna’ need some magic to

Convince the world to stop

‘Cause now we’re running out of time

And he’s feeling mighty hot.


Oh, Frosty the Snowman, is endangered as could be

And the children say they wish he’d stay,

But they don’t trust you and me.


He led them down the streets of town

Right to the climate COP.

They gathered there, and Greta stared

And together hollered “STOP”.


Frosty the Snowman, had to hurry on his way

But he said we should do all that we could

For to change our dirty ways.


Frosty the Snowman, knew the time to act was now

So the girls and boys said make some noise

And we’ll get a change somehow


Carol of M87 lyrics:

Hark at the sound

Photons abound

Radio waves

All seem to say

Out in the dark

This glowing spark

We find our goal

See a black hole.


(M) M Eight-se’en

(Eight) As it was then

(tee) eons ago

(se’en) See it aglow


Data from these

Observatries

Processed to give

The first image


One seems to see

With EHT

Fire in a ring

Light circling


Einstein was right,

Warped is the light,

See the lensing

Bending the ring.


Now-we see-a supermassive black hole. (M – eigh-ty- se’en)

How-we see-a supermassive black hole. (M – eigh-ty-se’en)


(M) Space time is bent

(Eight) See this event

(tee) Horizon burn

(ee) So...  


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Dec 18, 2019
Long Read Podcast: How to save coral reefs as the world warms
00:15:38

Research groups around the world are exploring new ways of protecting coral reefs from climate change.


This is an audio version of our feature: These corals could survive climate change — and help save the world’s reefs, written by Amber Dance and read by Kerri Smith.

 

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Dec 16, 2019
12 December 2019: Social priming, and acoustic science
00:27:17

We recently launched our 2019 listener survey. We want to hear your views on the show to help us make it even better, so please help us by filling in the survey, thanks!


In this episode:


00:45 What’s next for social priming?

How might a branch of psychological research move forward in the face of replication failures? News Feature: What’s next for psychology’s embattled field of social priming


08:55 Research Highlights

Killer-whale grandmothers help their grandchildren survive, and the failed voyage of a reproduced ancient raft. Research Highlight: Why female orcas make killer grandmasResearch Highlight: On a model ancient raft, seafarers are up the current without a paddle


11:12 The sounds of science

We hear the latest updates from the Acoustical Society of America's recent conference.


18:44 News Chat

Reassessing when civilisations moved to modernity, and understanding exoplanets. News: When did societies become modern? ‘Big history’ dashes popular idea of Axial AgeNews: European space telescope to launch new era of exoplanet science

 

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Dec 11, 2019
05 December 2019: Genomic sequencing and the source of solar winds
00:28:00

We recently launched our 2019 listener survey. We want to hear your views on the show to help us make it even better. You can find the survey here. Thanks!


In this episode:

 

00:45 The GenomeAsia 100k project

Researchers have released the first data from an ambitious project to sequence the genomes of 100,000 people from populations across Asia. Research Article: GenomeAsia100K Consortium

 

08:56 Research Highlights

Bare riverbanks make meanders move, and human activity affects picky penguins. Research Highlight: The meandering rivers that speed across barren landscapes; Research Highlight: Climate change splits two penguin species into winners and losers

 

11:18 Curbing the rise in genetic surveillance

Concerns are growing around the use of commercial DNA databases for state-level surveillance. Comment: Crack down on genomic surveillance


 

20:02 News Chat

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has sent back the most detailed information yet about the birthplace of solar wind. News: Sun-bombing spacecraft uncovers secrets of the solar wind

 

 


 

 

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Dec 04, 2019
Nature Pastcast, November 1869: The first issue of Nature
00:13:39

This year, Nature celebrates its 150th birthday. To mark this anniversary we’re rebroadcasting episodes from our PastCast series, highlighting key moments in the history of science.


In this episode, we’re heading back to 4 November 1869, when Nature’s story began. The first issue of the journal looked very different from the way it does now and, to the dismay of the editor, it was not immediately popular. In this podcast, we hear how Nature began, and how it became the journal it is today.


From the archive

Nature 4 November 1869

 

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Nov 29, 2019
28 November 2019: Nature’s 2019 PhD survey, and older women in sci-fi novels
00:24:38

This week, delving into the results of the latest graduate student survey, and assessing ageism in science fiction literature.

 

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Nov 27, 2019
21 November 2019: A new antibiotic from nematode guts, grant funding ‘lotteries’, and butterfly genomes
00:18:49

This week, an antibiotic that targets hard-to-treat bacteria, and a roundup of the latest science news.


In this episode:


00:49 Discovering darobactin

Researchers looked inside nematode guts and have identified a new antibiotic with some useful properties. Research Article: Imai et al.


05:45 Research Highlights

Using urine as a health metric, and sniffing out book decay with an electronic nose. Research Article: Miller et al.Research Article: Veríssimo et al.


07:54 News Chat

Adding an element of chance to grant funding, a continental butterfly-sequencing project, and tracking endangered animals via traces of their DNA. News: Science funders gamble on grant lotteriesNews: Every butterfly in the United States and Canada now has a genome sequenceNews: Rare bird’s detection highlights promise of ‘environmental DNA’

 

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Nov 20, 2019
14 November 2019: A rapid, multi-material 3D printer, and a bacterium’s role in alcoholic hepatitis
00:23:11

This week, a new 3D printer allows quick shifting between many materials, and understanding the link between gut microbes and liver disease.


00:46 A new dimension for 3D printers

A new nozzle lets a 3D printer switch between materials at a rapid rate, opening the door to a range of applications. Research Article: Skylar-Scott et al.News and Views: How to print multi-material devices in one go


08:07 Research Highlights

The slippery secrets of ice, and cells wrapping up their nuclei. Research Highlight: Viscous water holds the secret to an ice skater’s smooth glideResearch Highlight: Super-thin layer of ‘bubble wrap’ cushions a cell’s nucleus


10:17 Linking bacteria to liver disease

Researchers have isolated a bacterial strain that appears to play an important role in alcoholic liver disease. Research paper: Duan et al.News and Views: Microbial clues to a liver disease


17:10 News Chat

‘Megaconstellations’ of satellites concern astronomers, and a report on the gender gap in chemistry. News: SpaceX launch highlights threat to astronomy from ‘megaconstellations’News: Huge study documents gender gap in chemistry publishing

 

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Nov 13, 2019
Backchat: Nature's 150th anniversary
00:17:52

This week marks 150 years since the first issue of Nature was published, on 4 November 1869. In this anniversary edition of Backchat, the panel take a look back at how the journal has evolved in this time, and discuss the role that Nature can play in today's society. The panel also pick a few of their favourite research papers that Nature has published, and think about where science might be headed in the next 150 years.


Collection: 150 years of Nature

 

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Nov 07, 2019
07 November 2019: The fossil of an upright ape, science in 150 years, and immunization progress around the world
00:31:21

This week, insights into the evolution of walking upright, how science needs to change in the next 150 years, and the unfinished agenda for vaccines.


In this episode:


00:50 Early ape locomotion

The discovery of a fossil of a new species of ape gives new insights on how bipedalism may have evolved. Research Article: Böhme et al.News and Views: Fossil ape hints at how walking on two feet evolvedNews: Fossil ape offers clues to evolution of walking on two feet


07:24 Research Highlights

Women lacking olfactory bulbs can somehow still smell, and telling whiskies apart through evaporation patterns. Research Highlight: The women who lack an odour-related brain area — and can still smell a roseResearch Highlight: Bourbon or Scotch? A droplet’s dynamics reveal the truth


09:44 How should science evolve?

This year is Nature’s 150th anniversary. Science has made huge strides during this time, but what needs to change to continue this progress for the next 150 years? Comment: Science must move with the times


17:52 The state of vaccination in 2019

Researchers assess the differences in immunization levels worldwide and identify the bottlenecks in developing new vaccines. Research article: Piot et al.


23:54 News Chat

An AI figures out the sun’s place in the Solar System, and reassessing the size of the proton. News article: AI Copernicus: Neural network ‘discovers’ that Earth orbits the Sun; News: Puzzle over size of proton leaps closer to resolution

 

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Nov 06, 2019
Nature Pastcast, October 1993: Carl Sagan uses Galileo to search for signs of life
00:13:20

This year, Nature celebrates its 150th birthday. To mark this anniversary we’re rebroadcasting episodes from our PastCast series, highlighting key moments in the history of science.


In the early 1990s, a team of astrophysicists led by Carl Sagan looked at data from the Galileo spacecraft and saw the signatures of life on a planet in our galaxy. Historian of science David Kaiser and astrobiologists Charles Cockell and Frank Drake discuss how we can tell if there is life beyond the Earth – and how optimism, as well as science, is necessary for such a venture.


This episode was first broadcast in October 2013.

 

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Oct 31, 2019
31 October 2019: An AI masters the video game StarCraft II, and measuring arthropod abundance
00:24:44

This week, a computer beats the best human players in StarCraft II, and a huge study of insects and other arthropods.


In this episode:


00:45 Learning to play

By studying and experimenting, an AI has reached Grandmaster level at the video game Starcraft II.

Research Article: Vinyals et al.News Article: Google AI beats experienced human players at real-time strategy game StarCraft II


10:08 Research Highlights

A record-breaking lightning bolt, and identifying our grey matter’s favourite tunes

Research Highlight: Here come the lightning ‘megaflashes’Research Highlight: Why some songs delight the human brain


12:24 Arthropods in decline

Researchers have surveyed how land-use change has affected arthropod diversity. 

Research article: Seibold et al.


18:30 News Chat

Young Canadians file a lawsuit against their government, an Alzheimer’s drug gets a second chance, and South Korean efforts to curb a viral epidemic in pigs. 

News: Canadian kids sue government over climate changeNews: Fresh push for ‘failed’ Alzheimer’s drugNews: South Korea deploys snipers and drones to fend off deadly pig virus

 

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Oct 30, 2019
Podcast Extra: Detecting gravitational waves
00:10:09

As part of Nature's 150th anniversary celebrations, we look back at an important moment in the history of science.



 

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Oct 28, 2019
24 October 2019: Quantum supremacy and ancient mammals
00:26:29

This week, a milestone in quantum computing, and rethinking early mammals.


In this episode:


00:43 A quantum computing milestone

A quantum computer is reported to have achieved ‘quantum supremacy’ – performing an operation that’s essentially impossible for classical computers. 

Research Article: Arute et al.News and Views: Quantum computing takes flightEditorial: A precarious milestone for quantum computingNews: Hello quantum world! Google publishes landmark quantum supremacy claim


08:24 Research Highlights

The world’s speediest ants, and the world’s loudest birdsong. 

Research Highlight: A land-speed record for ants set in Saharan dunesResearch Highlight: A bird’s ear-splitting shriek smashes the record for loudest song


10:19 The mammals that lived with the dinosaurs

Paleontologists are shifting their view of the Mesozoic era mammals. 

News Feature: How the earliest mammals thrived alongside dinosaurs


18:00 News Chat

A Russian researcher’s plans to edit human embryos, and ‘prime editing’ - a more accurate gene editing system. 

News: Russian ‘CRISPR-baby’ scientist has started editing genes in human eggs with goal of altering deaf geneNews: Super-precise new CRISPR tool could tackle a plethora of genetic diseases

 

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Oct 23, 2019
17 October 2019: Mapping childhood mortality, and evolving ‘de novo’ genes
00:24:12

This week, investigating child mortality rates at a local level, and building genes from non-coding DNA.


In this episode:


00:43 A regional view of childhood mortality

Researchers map countries' progress towards the UN’s Sustainable Developmental Goals. 

Research Article: Burstein et al.World View: Data on child deaths are a call for justiceEditorial: Protect the census


07:22 Research Highlights

Astronomers identify a second visitor from beyond the solar system, and extreme snowfall stifles animal breeding in Greenland. 

Research Highlight: The comet that came in from interstellar spaceResearch Highlight: Extreme winter leads to an Arctic reproductive collapse


09:22 Evolving genes from the ground up

Natural selection's creative way to evolve new genes. 

News Feature: How evolution builds genes from scratch


15:43 News Chat

A spate of vaping-related deaths in the US, and Japan’s import of the Ebola virus. 

News: Scientists chase cause of mysterious vaping illness as death toll risesNews: Why Japan imported Ebola ahead of the 2020 Olympics

 

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Oct 16, 2019
10 October 2019: Estimating earthquake risk, and difficulties for deep-learning
00:23:33

This week, a method for predicting follow-up earthquakes, and the issues with deep learning systems in AI.


In this episode:


00:47 Which is the big quake?

A new technique could allow seismologists to better predict if a larger earthquake will follow an initial tremor. 

Research Article: Real-time discrimination of earthquake foreshocks and aftershocksNews and Views: Predicting if the worst earthquake has passed


07:46 Research Highlights

Vampire bats transmitting rabies in Costa Rica, and why are some octopuses warty? 

Research Article: Streicker et al.Research Article: Voight et al.


10:03 Problems for pattern-recognition

Deep-learning allows AIs to better understand the world, but the technique is not without its issues. 

News Feature: Why deep-learning AIs are so easy to fool


16:31 News Chat

We roundup the 2019 Nobel Prizes for science. 

News: Biologists who decoded how cells sense oxygen win medicine NobelNews: Physics Nobel goes to exoplanet and cosmology pioneersNews: Chemistry Nobel honours world-changing batteries

 

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Oct 09, 2019
Podcast Extra: Q&A with Nobel Prize winner John B Goodenough
00:04:23

In this Podcast Extra, we speak to John B Goodenough, from the University of Texas at Austin, in the US. Today, John was announced as one of the joint winners of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Reporter Benjamin Thompson went along to the Royal Society in London to chat with him.

 

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Oct 09, 2019
Podcast Extra: Q&A with Nobel Prize winner Didier Queloz
00:08:02

In this Podcast Extra, we speak to physicist Didier Queloz, who was announced today as one of the joint winners of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics. Shortly after the winners were announced, Didier took part in a press conference to talk about his award. Reporter Benjamin Thompson went along to chat with him.

 

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Oct 08, 2019
03 October 2019: Leapfrogging speciation, and migrating mosquitoes
00:25:55

This week, how new species may form by sexual imprinting, and a previously unknown way for mosquitoes to migrate.


In this episode:


00:43 New species by sexual imprinting?

A Central American frog chooses mates resembling its parents, a possible route for new species to form. 

Research Article: Yang et al.News and Views: Leapfrog to speciation boosted by mother’s influence


09:58 Research Highlights

A light-based pacemaker, and the mathematics of the best place to park. 

Research Article: Mei et al.Research Highlight: Maths tackles an eternal question: where to park?


11:43 Gone with the wind

Researchers show that malaria mosquitoes may travel hundreds of kilometres using wind currents. 

Research Article: Huestis et al.News and Views: Malaria mosquitoes go with the flow


19:28 News Chat

Eradication of Guinea Worm pushed back, and researchers report ‘pressure to cite’. 

News: Exclusive: Battle to wipe out debilitating Guinea worm parasite hits 10 year delayNews: Two-thirds of researchers report ‘pressure to cite’ in Nature poll

 

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Oct 02, 2019
Nature PastCast, September 1963: Plate tectonics – the unifying theory of Earth sciences
00:15:51

This year, Nature celebrates its 150th birthday. To mark this anniversary we’re rebroadcasting episodes from our PastCast series, highlighting key moments in the history of science.


Earthquakes, volcanoes, the formation of mountains; we understand all these phenomena in terms of plate tectonics (large-scale movements of the Earth’s crust). But when a German geologist first suggested that continents move, in the 1910s, people dismissed it as a wild idea. In this podcast, we hear how a ‘wild idea’ became the unifying theory of Earth sciences. In the 1960s, data showed that the sea floor was spreading, pushing continents apart. Fred Vine recalls the reaction when he published these findings in Nature.


This episode was first broadcast in September 2013.


From the archive


Magnetic Anomalies Over Oceanic Ridges, by Vine & Matthews

 

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Sep 27, 2019
26 September 2019: Mysteries of the ancient mantle, and the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
00:23:28

This week, diamond-containing rocks may help uncover secrets of the Earth’s mantle, and a reflection on science since the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy was published.


In this episode:


00:46 Earth’s Evolution

Explosive eruptions have allowed researchers to study Earth’s mysterious mantle. 

Research Article: Woodhead et al.News and Views: Enigmatic origin of diamond-bearing rocks revealed


06:08 Research Highlights

Supersonic cork popping, and the timing of vaccines. 

Research Highlight: An uncorked champagne bottle imitates a fighter jetResearch Highlight: Why midday might be a golden hour for vaccinations


07:53 Don’t Panic

40 years since the publication of the ‘Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ we reflect on how far science has come.


15:22 News Chat

A huge telescope with exquisite sensitivity is opening in China, and gene-editing to save bananas. News: Gigantic Chinese telescope opens to astronomers worldwideNews: CRISPR might be the banana’s only hope against a deadly fungus

 

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Sep 25, 2019
Podcast Extra: Absurd scientific advice
00:15:57

How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems is the new book from XKCD cartoonist Randall Munroe. In this Podcast Extra, Randall talks about the book, its inspiration and the bizarre thought experiments it contains.

 

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Sep 21, 2019
Backchat: Covering Climate Now
00:18:43

In this episode:


00:44 A global media collaboration

This week, Nature is taking part in the Covering Climate Now project. What is it, and why has Nature joined? Editorial: Act now and avert a climate crisis


05:49 ‘Climate change’ vs ‘climate emergency’

In early 2019, The Guardian changed the wording they use when covering climate stories. Our panel discusses the importance of phrasing, and how it evolves. The Guardian: Why the Guardian is changing the language it uses about the environment


13:40 Choosing climate images

What makes a good image for a climate change story? What do they add to a written news story?


This episode of the Backchat is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 media outlets to highlight the issue of climate change.

 

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Sep 19, 2019
19 September 2019: XKCD, and Extinction Rebellion
00:26:06

This week, absurd advice from XKCD’s Randall Munroe, and a conversation with climate lawyer turned activist Farhana Yamin.


In this episode:

 

00:46 How to do things (badly)

Cartoonist Randall Munroe tell us about his new book: How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems.


08:21 Research Highlights

How insemination makes honeybee queens lose their way, and ‘toe maps’ in the brain. Research Highlight: Sex clouds queen bees’ vision; Research Highlight: ‘Toe maps’ in the brain guide painters born without hands


10:31 From climate lawyer to climate activist

After three decades of climate advocacy, renowned IPCC lawyer Farhana Yamin decided to join Extinction Rebellion – she tells us why. Comment: Why I broke the law for climate change


17:48 News Chat

How nations are progressing towards limiting greenhouse-gas emissions, and climate cash flow. News Feature: The hard truths of climate change — by the numbers; News Feature: Where climate cash is flowing and why it’s not enough


This episode of the Nature Podcast is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 media outlets to highlight the issue of climate change.

 

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Sep 18, 2019
12 September 2019: Modelling early embryos, and male-dominated conferences
00:23:59

This week, modelling embryonic development, and an analysis of male dominated conferences.


In this episode:


00:44 Imitating implantation

Researchers have created a system that uses stem cells to model the early stages of pregnancy. 

Research article: Zheng et al.News and Views: Human embryo implantation modelled in microfluidic channels


08:03 Research Highlights

Traces of baby turtle tracks, and Titan’s explosive past. 

Research Highlight: A baby sea turtle’s ancient trek is captured in a fossilResearch Highlight: Giant explosions sculpted a moon’s peculiar scenery


09:36 ‘Manferences’

Nature investigates the prevalence of conferences where most of the speakers are male. 

News Feature: How to banish manels and manferences from scientific meetings


15:41 News Chat

An update on India’s latest moon mission, drugs that may reverse biological age, and this year’s Breakthrough Prize winners. 

News: India loses contact with its Moon lander minutes before touchdownNews: First hint that body’s ‘biological age’ can be reversedNews: First-ever picture of a black hole scoops US$3-million prize

 

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Sep 11, 2019
05 September 2019: Persistent antibiotic resistance, and modelling hot cities
00:25:29

This week, Salmonella spreading antibiotic resistance, and the drivers of urban heat islands.


In this episode:

 

00:46 Antibiotic resistance reservoirs

Researchers have identified how Salmonella ‘persister’ cells can spread antibiotic resistance genes in mice intestines.

Research article: Bakkeren et al.


08:12 Research Highlights

Bright barn owls stun prey, and the evolution of dog brains. 

Research Highlight: Zip-lining owls reveal what really scares their preyResearch Highlight: A dog’s breed is a window onto its brain


10:13 Urban heating

Cities are generally hotter than their surroundings, but what are the causes of these ‘heat islands’? 

Research Article: Manoli et al.


16:54 News Chat

A cryptic Russian radiation spike, and India’s moon mission gets closer to touchdown. 

News: How nuclear scientists are decoding Russia’s mystery explosionNews: ‘The most terrifying moments’: India counts down to risky Moon landing

 

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Sep 04, 2019
Nature PastCast, August 1975: Antibodies’ ascendency to blockbuster drug status
00:18:35

This year, Nature celebrates its 150th birthday. To mark this anniversary we’re rebroadcasting episodes from our PastCast series, highlighting key moments in the history of science.


They’re found in home-testing kits for pregnancy, hospital tests for MRSA, and in six out of ten of the best-selling drugs today. But monoclonal antibodies have kept a surprisingly low profile since their debut in a Nature paper in 1975. This podcast follows them from that time through patent wars, promising drug trials and finally to blockbuster status today.


This episode was first broadcast in August 2013.


From the archive:


Continuous cultures of fused cells secreting antibody of predefined specificity, by Köhler & Milstein


Margaret Thatcher speech clips courtesy of the Margaret Thatcher Foundation.

 

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Aug 30, 2019
29 August 2019: Carbon-based computing, and depleting ancient-human genomes
00:26:08

This week, a computer chip based on carbon nanotubes, and the potential pitfalls of sequencing ancient-human remains.


In this episode:

 

00:45 A nanotube microprocessor

Scientists are looking beyond silicon, by constructing a computer chip using carbon nanotubes.

Research article: Shulaker et al. News and Views: Nanotube computer scaled up

 

08:38 Research Highlights

Weighing neutrinos, and discovering a hidden Zika epidemic.

Research Highlight: Lightest neutrino is at least 6 million times lighter than an electron; Research Highlight: Cuba’s untold Zika outbreak uncovered

 

10:29 Using ancient-human remains conscientiously

While genetic sequencing of ancient-human remains is providing more information than ever, these remains must be safeguarded, warn researchers. Comment Article: Use ancient remains more wisely

 

17:21 News Chat

The discovery of a 3.8-million-year-old hominin skull, and using CRISPR to make ‘smart’ materials.

News: Rare 3.8-million-year-old skull recasts origins of iconic ‘Lucy’ fossil News: CRISPR cuts turn gels into biological watchdogs

 

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Aug 28, 2019
22 August 2019: Combating online hate speech, and identifying early fossils
00:24:20

This week, the resilience of internet hate groups, and searching for early life.


In this episode:


00:46 Tackling internet hate

Researchers have been modelling how hate groups interact online, and have come up with suggestions to combat this activity. 

Research article: