Nature Podcast

By Springer Nature Limited

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Subscribers: 3340
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 the Nature journal. We meet the scientists behind the results and provide in-depth analysis from Nature's journalists and editors.

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Episode Date
Nature's Take: How the war in Ukraine is impacting science
21:12

The ongoing war in Ukraine has devastated the global economy, rocked geopolitics, killed thousands of people and displaced millions. Science too has been affected and the impacts on research are being felt more widely than just in Ukraine and Russia.


In this episode of Nature's Takes we discuss the war's impact on publishing, international collaborations, climate change and energy, and the destructive impacts on scientists themselves. And as the war continues, we consider the future of science in the face of a new political climate.



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Oct 03, 2022
Audio long read: What scientists have learnt from COVID lockdowns
22:38

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries introduced strict lockdowns to help prevent spread of the disease. Since then, researchers have been studying the effects of these measures to help inform responses to future crises.


Conclusions suggest that countries that acted swiftly to bring in strict measures did best at preserving lives and their economies, but analysing the competing costs and benefits of lockdowns has been tough, as this work often comes down not to scientific calculations, but value judgements.


This is an audio version of our Feature: What scientists have learnt from COVID lockdowns



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Sep 30, 2022
A trove of ancient fish fossils helps trace the origin of jaws
19:10

In this episode:


00:45 Piecing together the early history of jawed vertebrates

A wealth of fossils discovered in southern China shed new light onto the diversity of jawed and jawless fish during the Silurian period, over 400 million years ago. Nature editor Henry Gee explains the finds and what they mean for the history of jawed vertebrates like us.


Research article: Zhu et al.

Research article: Gai et al.

Research article: Andreev et al.

Research article: Andreev et al.

News and Views: Fossils reveal the deep roots of jawed vertebrates


09:09 Research Highlights

Mice studies help explain why some people with a rare genetic condition have heightened musical abilities, and high-resolution images reveal how bees build honeycomb.


Research Highlight: How a missing gene leads to super-sensitivity to sound

Research Highlight: X-rays reveal how bees achieve an engineering marvel: the honeycomb


11:27 A lack of evidence in transgender policy making

Around the world, many laws are being proposed – and passed – regarding the rights of transgender people to participate in various aspects of society. We talk to Paisley Currah, who has written a World View for Nature arguing that these policies are frequently not backed up by data, and that policy affecting trans people’s lives needs to take a more evidence-based approach.


World View: To set transgender policy, look to the evidence


Watch our video about research trying to crack the nature of consciousness by dosing volunteers with psychedelic drugs and scanning their brains.


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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Sep 28, 2022
Huge dataset shows 80% of US professors come from just 20% of institutions
19:56

00:46 Inequalities in US faculty hiring

In the US, where a person gained their PhD can have an outsized influence on their future career. Now, using a decade worth of data, researchers have shown there are stark inequalities in the hiring process, with 80% of US faculty trained at just 20% of institutions.


Research article: Wapman et al.


09:01 Research Highlights

How wildlife can influence chocolate production, and the large planets captured by huge stars.


Research Highlight: A chocoholic’s best friends are the birds and the bats

Research Highlight: Giant stars turn to theft to snag jumbo planets


11:42 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, what science says about grieving for a public figure, and why suburban Australians are sharing increasingly sophisticated measures to prevent cockatoos from opening wheelie bins.


Nature News: Millions are mourning the Queen — what’s the science behind public grief?

The Guardian: ‘Interspecies innovation arms race’: cockatoos and humans at war over wheelie bin raids


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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Sep 21, 2022
Complex synthetic cells bring scientists closer to artificial cellular life
20:15

00:46 Synthetic cells made from bacterial bits

For years researchers have been interested in creating artificial cells, as they could be useful for manufacturing compounds and understanding how life works. Now a new method shows how this can be accomplished using polymer droplets that integrate components of burst bacteria. The synthesised cells are able to perform translation and transcription and have several features that resemble real cells, like a proto-nucleus and a cytoskeleton.


Research article: Xu et al.

News and Views: Life brought to artificial cells


09:33 Research Highlights

A mysterious ancient creature identified from its vomit, and the combination of immunity, diet and bacteria that could protect from metabolic disorders.


Research Highlight: The Jurassic vomit that stood the test of time

Research Highlight: A sugary diet wrecks gut microbes — and their anti-obesity efforts


11:42 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, research on the safety of three-person embryos, and the gene that gave our ancestors an edge over neanderthals.


Nature News: Embryos with DNA from three people develop normally in first safety study

Nature News: Did this gene give modern human brains their edge?


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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Sep 14, 2022
Missing foot reveals world’s oldest amputation
21:42

00:46 Evidence of ancient surgery

A skeleton with an amputated foot discovered in Borneo has been dated to 31,000 years ago, suggesting that complex surgery might be much older than previously thought. The person whose foot was removed survived the procedure, which the researchers behind the find say shows the ‘surgeon’ must have had detailed knowledge of anatomy, and likely had access to antiseptic compounds.


Research article: Maloney et al.

News and Views: A surgical dawn 31,000 years ago in Borneo


10:12 Research Highlights

Mummified reptiles hint at severe drought 250 million years ago, and mapping avalanche risk in remote locations.


Research Highlight: Quick-dried Lystrosaurus ‘mummy’ holds clues to mass death in the Triassic

Research Highlight: Avalanches in remote peaks are revealed with old satellites’ aid


13:09 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, how extreme heat has likely contributed to Pakistan’s devastating floods, and what the James Webb Space Telescope has revealed about exoplanets so far?


Nature News: Why are Pakistan’s floods so extreme this year?

Nature News: Webb telescope wows with first image of an exoplanet

Nature News: Webb telescope spots CO2 on exoplanet for first time: what it means for finding alien life


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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Sep 07, 2022
Audio long read: Hybrid brains – the ethics of transplanting human neurons into animals
23:31

The development of brain chimaeras – made up of human and animal neurons – is an area of research that has hugely expanded in the past five years. Proponents say that these systems are yielding important insights into health and disease, but others say the chimeras represent an ethical grey zone, because of the potential to blur the line between humans and other animals, or to recapitulate human-like cognition in an animal.


This is an audio version of our Feature: Hybrid brains: the ethics of transplanting human neurons into animals



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Aug 26, 2022
How to make water that's full of holes
30:43

In this episode:


00:45 How adding pores helps water carry gas

Although water is an excellent solvent, it’s limited in its ability to dissolve gasses. To overcome this a team have developed ‘porous water’ containing tiny cages that can hold large numbers of gas molecules. The team suggest that this technology could have multiple medical applications, including in the development of artificial blood.


Research article: Erdosy et al.

News and Views: Suspended pores boost gas solubility in water


11:35 Research Highlights

Synthetic ‘nerves’ help mice to walk, and planets orbiting a star that’s due to go supernova.


Research Highlight: Stretchy synthetic nerve helps mice give ball a mighty kick

Research Highlight: A massive planet circles a huge star doomed to explode


14:16 When did hominins get on their feet?

One of humanity's defining characteristics is our ability to walk on two legs. However, when this ability evolved remains a mystery. A paper out this week suggests that the species Sahelanthropus tchadensis was walking on two legs seven million years ago – but others dispute these findings. We hear about the research and the debate surrounding it.


News: Seven-million-year-old femur suggests ancient human relative walked upright

Research article: Daver et al.

News and Views: Standing up for the earliest bipedal hominins


21:45 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, modelling an enormous, extinct megalodon shark, and a potential way to break down ‘forever chemicals’.


The Guardian: Ancient megalodon shark could eat a whale in a few bites, research suggests

Nature News: How to destroy ‘forever chemicals’: cheap method breaks down PFAS



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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Aug 24, 2022
Do protons have intrinsic charm? New evidence suggests yes
22:03

00:47 Evidence of a proton’s charm

For decades, scientists have debated whether protons have ‘intrinsic charm’, meaning they contain elementary particles known as charm quarks. Now, using machine learning to comb through huge amounts of experimental data, a team have shown evidence that the charm quark can be found within a proton, which may have important ramifications in the search for new physics.


Research article: The NNPDF Collaboration

News and Views: Evidence at last that the proton has intrinsic charm


11:26 Research Highlights

How sea sponges ‘sneeze’ to clean their filters, and why bonobos’ infantile behaviour helps them receive consolation after conflict.


Research Highlight: How a sponge ‘sneezes’ mucus: against the flow

Research Highlight: Bonobo apes pout and throw tantrums — and gain sympathy


13:52 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, the repeated evolution of the crab body-shape, and why demanding work can lead to mental fatigue.


Discover: Evolution Only Thinks About One Thing, and It’s Crabs

Nature News: Why thinking hard makes us feel tired


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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Aug 17, 2022
Nature's Take: what's next for the preprint revolution
24:31

In this first episode of Nature's Take, we get four of Nature's staff around microphones to get their expert take on preprints. These pre-peer-review open access articles have spiked in number over recent years and have cemented themselves as an integral part of scientific publishing. But this has not been without its issues.


In this discussion we cover a lot of ground. Amongst other things, we ask whether preprints could help democratise science or contribute to a loss of trust in scientists. We pick apart the relationship between preprints and peer-reviewed journals and tackle some common misconceptions. We ask how preprints have been used by different fields and how the pandemic has changed the game. And as we look to the future, we ask how preprints fit into the discussion around open access and even if they could do away with journals all together.



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Aug 15, 2022
Why low temperatures could help starve tumours of fuel
21:54

Cold exposure in mice activates brown fat to deny tumours glucose, and the future of extreme heatwaves.


00:45 How cold temperatures could starve tumours

A team of researchers have found that exposing mice to the cold could starve tumour cells of the blood glucose they need to thrive. They showed that the cold temperatures deprived the tumours of fuel by activating brown fat – a tissue that burns through glucose to keep body temperature up. The team also showed preliminary evidence of the effect occurring in one person with cancer, but say that more research is needed before this method can be considered for clinical use.


Research article: Seki et al.


08:59 Research Highlights

Evidence of the world’s southernmost human outpost from before the Industrial Revolution, and how jumping up and down lets canoes surf their own waves.


Research Highlight: Bones and weapons show just how far south pre-industrial humans got


Research Highlight: How jumping up and down in a canoe propels it forwards


11:24 The future of extreme heatwaves

Climate scientists have long warned that extreme heat and extreme heatwaves will become more frequent as a result of climate change. But across the world these events are happening faster, and more furiously, than expected, and researchers are scrambling to dissect recent heatwaves to better understand what the world might have in store.


News Feature: Extreme heatwaves: surprising lessons from the record warmth



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Aug 10, 2022
Massive Facebook study reveals a key to social mobility
22:56

00:47 The economic benefits of social connections

By looking at data gathered from billions of Facebook friendships, researchers have shown that having more connections with people from higher income groups could increase future incomes by 20%. They also show how such connections can be formed, and how schools and other institutions could help to improve peoples’ opportunities in the future.


Research Article: Chetty et al.

Research Article: Chetty et al.

News and Views: The social connections that shape economic prospects

Link to the data


11:06 Research Highlights

How balloons could help measure quakes on Venus, and the parasitic fungus that tricks flies into mating with fly corpses.


Research Highlight: Balloon flotilla detects an earthquake from high in the sky

Research Highlight: The fungus that entices male flies to mate with female corpses


13:40 Reviving pig organs hours after death

When someone dies, tissues start to irreversibly degrade, but recently this irreversibility has been brought into question by studies showing that some organs can be partially revived several hours after death. Now, working in pigs, researchers have shown it is possible to revive the functions of several organs at once. This could pave the way for improved organ transplantation, but ethicists advise caution.


Research Article: Andrijevic et al.

News and Views: Improved organ recovery after oxygen deprivation

News: Pig organs partially revived in dead animals — researchers are stunned


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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Aug 03, 2022
Coronapod: the open-science plan to unseat big Pharma and tackle vaccine inequity
35:17

Inequity has been a central feature of the COVID19 pandemic. From health outcomes to access to vaccines, COVID has pushed long-standing disparities out of the shadows and into the public eye and many of these problems are global. In this episode of Coronapod we dig into a radical new collaboration of 15 countries - co-led by the WHO, and modelled on open-science. The project, called the mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub, aims to create independent vaccine hubs that could supply the global south, and take on the giants of the pharmaceutical industry in the process. But the road ahead is long - the challenges are complex and numerous, and the odds are stacked against them. But at a time when stakes couldn't be higher, momentum is building and if successful, the tantalising possibility of an end to a dangerous legacy of dependence looms. Can it be done? And if so, what needs to change to make it happen? We ask these questions and more.


News Feature: The radical plan for vaccine equity


This project was supported by the Pulitzer Center.



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Jul 29, 2022
How humans adapted to digest lactose — after thousands of years of milk drinking
27:56

00:45 Working out how the ability to digest milk spread

Humans have been drinking milk for thousands of years, but it seems that they were doing so long before the ability to digest it became prevalent. Then around 2000 years ago, this ability became common in Europe, presenting a mystery to researchers – why then? Now by analyzing health data, ancient DNA, and fats residues from thousands of ancient pots, scientists have worked out what caused this trait to suddenly spread throughout Europe.


Research Article: Evershed et al.

News and Views: The mystery of early milk consumption in Europe


08:56 Research Highlights

How genes stolen from outside the animal kingdom have altered insects’ abilities, and a dormant black hole beyond the Milky Way gives insights into these objects' origins.


Research Highlight: Genes purloined from across the tree of life give insects a boost

Research Highlight: A quiet black hole whispers its origin story


11:21 Assessing the addiction potential for therapeutic ketamine

Ketamine has shown great promise as a fast-acting antidepressant, but there have been concerns about the risks of addiction relating to this therapeutic use. Now, a team have looked in mice to see whether ketamine causes the behavioural and neuronal changes characteristic of addictive substances. They find that ketamine likely has a low addiction risk, which could inform future prescribing decisions in humans.


Research article: Simmler et al.

News and Views: A short burst of reward curbs the addictiveness of ketamine


17:51 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, a report shows a significant decline in Australia’s environment and ecosystems, and how adding a gene greatly increases rice yield.


The Conversation: This is Australia’s most important report on the environment’s deteriorating health. We present its grim findings

Science: Supercharged biotech rice yields 40% more grain


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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Jul 27, 2022
How researchers have pinpointed the origin of 'warm-blooded' mammals
29:16

00:46 When did mammals start to regulate their temperature?

The evolution of ‘warm bloodedness’ allowed mammals to live in a more diverse range of habitats, but working out when this occurred has been difficult. To try and pin down a date, researchers have studied the fossilised remains of ancient mammals' inner ears, which suggest that this key evolutionary leap appeared around 230 million years ago.


Research Article: Araujo et al.

News and Views: Evolution of thermoregulation as told by ear


07:14 Research Highlights

A new surgical glue that’s both strong and easy to remove, and southern fin whales return to Antarctica after being hunted to near extinction.


Research Highlight: This adhesive bandage sticks strongly — even to hairy skin

Research Highlight: A feeding frenzy of 150 whales marks a species’ comeback


09:47 Structure of an enzyme reveals how its so efficient

Hydrogen dependent CO2 reductase is an enzyme that can convert CO2 from the air into formic acid that can be used as fuel. It also does this extremely efficiently, but nobody has been quite sure how. Now researchers have an idea based on a detailed structural analysis.


Research Article: Dietrich et al.


17:51 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, the findings of some big biodiversity reports, and how woodpeckers don’t end up with headaches from their pecking.


Nature News: More than dollars: mega-review finds 50 ways to value nature

Nature News: Major wildlife report struggles to tally humanity’s exploitation of species

Science: Contrary to popular belief, woodpeckers don’t protect their brains when headbanging trees


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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Jul 20, 2022
Ancient mud reveals the longest record of climate from the tropics
28:30

00:46 A long-term record of climate in the tropics

To understand the history of the Earth’s climate, researchers often rely on things like ice cores, which contain layered frozen insights of thousands of years of history. However, in the tropics long-term records like these have been absent. Now researchers have uncovered a sediment core in Peru which reveals around 700,000 years of climatic history.


Research Article: Rodbell et al.

News and Views: Sediment study finds the pulse of tropical glaciers


09:40 Research Highlights

The biological ‘helmets’ that protect shrimp from themselves, and why the colour of wine bottles matters.


Research Highlight: ‘Helmets’ shield shrimp from their own supersonic shock waves

Research Highlight: Why white wine in plain-glass bottles loses its bouquet


12:38 The James Webb Space Telescope reveals its first images

After more than two decades of development, the James Webb Space Telescope has broadcast its first images in spectacular detail. We discuss how we got here, what’s next and what these images mean for science.


News: Stunning new Webb images: baby stars, colliding galaxies and hot exoplanets


21:33 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, we discuss a crystal made out of starfish embryos.


Video: How starfish embryos become living crystals


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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Jul 13, 2022
Higgs boson at 10: a deep dive into the mysterious, mass-giving particle
22:18

In this Podcast Extra, Nature's Lizzie Gibney and Federico Levi take a deep-dive into the Higgs boson, describing their experiences of its discovery, what the latest run of the Large Hadron Collider might reveal about the particle's properties, and what role it could play in potential physics beyond the standard model.


Nature News: Happy birthday, Higgs boson! What we do and don’t know about the particle

Nature Editorial: Particle physics isn’t going to die — even if the LHC finds no new particles



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Jul 11, 2022
Coronapod: detecting COVID variants in sewage
11:27

Since early in the pandemic, scientists have searched for signals of SARS-CoV-2 transmission by sampling wastewater. This surveillance method has provided vital information to inform public health responses. But the approach has never been particularly specific - pointing to broad trends rather than granular information such as which variants are spreading where. But now a team from the University of California have created two new tools to sample waste water in much greater detail - and spot variants and their relative concentrations up to two weeks faster than testing-based surveillance methods. In this episode of Coronapod, we discuss the paper and ask how a system like this could help countries around the world respond to the COVID pandemic and beyond.


News: COVID variants found in sewage weeks before showing up in tests



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Jul 08, 2022
Higgs boson turns ten: the mysteries physicists are still trying to solve
29:32

00:46 Happy birthday, Higgs boson - looking back at a momentous milestone for physics

Ten years ago this week, scientists announced that they’d found evidence of the existence of the Higgs boson, a fundamental particle first theorised to exist nearly sixty years earlier.


To celebrate this anniversary, we reminisce about what the discovery meant at the time, and what questions are left to be answered about this mysterious particle.


Nature News: Happy birthday, Higgs boson! What we do and don’t know about the particle

Nature Editorial: Particle physics isn’t going to die — even if the LHC finds no new particles


11:09 Research Highlights

Clever clothes that can cool or warm the wearer, and finding hidden DNA from the endangered red wolf.


Research Highlight: ‘Smart’ clothing flexes to provide relief from the heat

Research Highlight: ‘Ghost’ DNA from the world’s rarest wolves lingers in coyotes


13:27 Supporting scientists who stutter

Stuttering is a speech condition that affects around 70 million people worldwide, which can make things like speaking in public, or even one-on-one incredibly daunting. We hear the experiences of one researcher of stuttering, who also has a stutter, as they explain the best way to offer support to others.


Careers Feature: The conference challenges faced by scientists who stutter


22:10 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, we discuss how having similar smells could spark a friendship, and how viruses can alter our odour to make humans more attractive to mosquitos.


New Scientist: You're more likely to become friends with someone who smells like you

Nature News: How some viruses make people smell extra-tasty to mosquitoes


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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Jul 06, 2022
Ed Yong on the wondrous world of animal senses
29:26

In the first episode of our new series Nature hits the books, science journalist Ed Yong joins us to talk about his new book An Immense World, which takes a journey through the weird and wonderful realm of animal senses.


In the show, we chat about how our human-centric view of the world has restricted researchers' understanding of animal senses, how to conceptualise what it might be like to be an electric-field sensitive fish, and what bees might make of us blushing...


An Immense World, Ed Yong, Random House (2022)


Music supplied by Airae/Epidemic Sound/Getty images.



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Jul 01, 2022
Norovirus could spread through saliva: a new route for infection?
30:08

00:47 Enteric viruses may spread through saliva

Enteric viruses, such as norovirus, cause a significant health burden around the world and are generally considered to only spread via the faecal-oral route. However, new research in mice suggests that saliva may also be a route of transmission for these viruses, which the authors say could have important public health implications.


Research Article: Ghosh et al.


08:59 Research Highlights

How devouring space rocks helped Jupiter to get so big, and what analysing teeth has revealed about the diet of the extinct super-sized megalodon shark.


Research Highlight: The heavy diet that made Jupiter so big

Research Highlight: What did megalodon the mega-toothed shark eat? Anything it wanted


11:24 Making the tetraneutron

For decades there have been hints of the existence of tetraneutrons, strange systems composed of four neutrons, and now researchers may have created one in the lab. This breakthrough could tell us more about the strong nuclear force that holds matter together.


Research article: Duer et al.

News and Views: Collisions hint that four neutrons form a transient isolated entity


18:46 After Roe v. Wade

Last Friday the US supreme court struck down the constitutional right to abortion. In the wake of this ruling, Nature has been turning to research to ask what we can expect in the coming weeks and months.


News: After Roe v. Wade: US researchers warn of what’s to come

Editorial: The US Supreme Court abortion verdict is a tragedy. This is how research organizations can help


Additional show links

Video: The pandemic's unequal toll

Collection: The science of inequality


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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Jun 29, 2022
Audio long read: These six countries are about to go to the Moon
19:16

In the next year, no fewer than seven missions are heading to the Moon. While NASA's Artemis programme might be stealing most of the limelight, the United States is just one of many nations and private companies that soon plan to launch lunar missions.


Although some of the agencies running these expeditions are providing scant details about the missions, it is hoped the they will provide streams of data about the Moon, heralding what scientists say could be a new golden age of lunar exploration.


This is an audio version of our Feature: These six countries are about to go to the Moon — here’s why



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Jun 27, 2022
Coronapod: USA authorises vaccines for youngest of kids
21:30

After a long wait, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have finally approved two COVID vaccines for use in children between the ages of six months and five years old. But despite a unanimous decision amongst regulators, parents still have questions about whether to vaccinate their young children, with survey data suggesting that the majority do not intend to accept vaccines right away. In this episode of Coronapod, we dig into the trials, the statistics and the regulators decision making process, in search of clarity around what the data are saying.


News: FDA authorizes COVID vaccines for the littlest kids: what the data say



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Jun 24, 2022
How science can tackle inequality
32:24

00:38 The science of studying inequality

We discuss the research looking to understand the root causes and symptoms of inequalities, how they are growing, and how a cross-disciplinary approach may be the key to tackling them.


Editorial: Equity must be baked into randomized controlled trials

News Feature: How COVID has deepened inequality — in six stark graphics

Career Feature: The rise of inequality research: can spanning disciplines help tackle injustice?


07:26 The randomised trials helping to alleviate poverty

For decades, researchers have been running randomised trials to assess different strategies to lift people out of poverty. Many of these trials centre on providing people with cash grants – we hear how these trials have fared, efforts to improve on them, and the difficulties of scaling them up.


News Feature: These experiments could lift millions out of dire poverty


21:23 Why breast cancers metastasize differently at different times of day

A team of researchers have found that breast cancer tumours are more likely to metastasize while people are asleep. By studying mice, the team suggest that hormone levels that fluctuate during the day play a key role, a finding they hope will change how cancer is monitored and treated.


Research article: Diamantopoulou et al.

News and Views: Cancer cells spread aggressively during sleep


28:46 The inequality of opportunity

A comment article in Nature argues that one of the most pernicious types of inequality is inequality of opportunity – based on characteristics over which people have no control. We discuss some of the data behind this and what can be done about it.


Comment: Not all inequalities are alike


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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Jun 22, 2022
How the Black Death got its start
32:12

00:46 Uncovering the origins of the Black Death

The Black Death is estimated to have caused the deaths of up to 60% of the population of Europe. However, despite extensive research, the origin of this wave of disease has remained unclear. Now, by using a combination of techniques, a team have identified a potential starting point in modern day Kyrgyzstan.


Research article: Spyrou et al.


06:57 Research Highlights

The cocktails of toxins produced by wriggling ribbon worms, and a tiny thermometer the size of a grain of sand.


Research Highlight: A poisonous shield, a potent venom: these worms mean business

Research Highlight: Mighty mini-thermometer detects tiny temperature changes


09:22 Researchers race to understand monkeypox

Around the world, there have been a number of outbreaks of monkeypox, a viral disease that has rarely been seen in countries outside of sub-Saharan Africa. Although infection numbers are small, researchers are racing to find out what’s driving these outbreaks and the best way to contain them. We get an update on the situation, and the questions scientists are trying to answer.


Nature News: Monkeypox vaccination begins — can the global outbreaks be contained?


19:20 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, doubts over claims that a Google chat bot has become sentient, and the automated cloud labs that let researchers perform experiments remotely.


New Scientist: Has Google's LaMDA artificial intelligence really achieved sentience?

The Washington Post: The Google engineer who thinks the company’s AI has come to life

Nature News: Cloud labs: where robots do the research


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Jun 15, 2022
Coronapod: COVID and smell loss, what the science says
20:28

One of the most curious symptoms of COVID-19 is the loss of smell and taste. For most, this phenomenon is short lived, but for many around the world the symptom can persist for months or even years after the infection has cleared. Once a tell-tale sign of infection, this sensory disruption is now becoming characterised as a chronic problem and scientists are only recently getting clear answers about the mechanisms behind it. In this episode of Coronapod, we dig into the most recent studies on the causes of smell loss after infection with SARS-CoV-2, as well as the treatments scientists are proposing to tackle it.


News: COVID and smell loss: answers begin to emerged


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Jun 11, 2022
Ancient 'giraffes' sported thick helmets for headbutting
18:23

00:33 A headbashing relative gives insights into giraffe evolution

How the giraffe got its long neck is a longstanding question in science. One possibility is that giraffes evolved longer necks for sexual competition, with males engaging in violent neck-swinging fights. Now, a team have described fossils of an ancient giraffoid species with a thick headpiece adapted for fighting, which could add weight to this hypothesis.


Nature News: How the giraffe got its neck: ‘unicorn’ fossil could shed light on puzzle


05:18 A wave of resignations signals discontent in academia

Around the world, the ‘great resignation’ has seen huge numbers of workers re-evaluating their careers and lifestyles and choosing to leave their jobs following the pandemic. Academia is no exception, with many scientists deciding to leave the sector in the face of increased workloads, systemic biases and pressure to publish.


Nature Careers: Has the ‘great resignation’ hit academia?


10:34 An emergency fix gets MAVEN back on track

Earlier this year, NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft, which has been orbiting Mars since 2014, developed some serious equipment issues that prevented it from keeping its correct orientation in space. In a race against time, a team on Earth fixed the problem by developing a system that allowed the spacecraft to navigate by the stars.


Space.com: NASA's Mars MAVEN spacecraft spent 3 months on the brink of disaster


14:28 The Perseverance rovers continues its rock collection

NASA’s Perseverance rover has arrived at an ancient Martian river delta where it will spend the next few months exploring, while scientists assess where to drill and extract rock samples. It’s thought that rocks from this region have the best chance of containing evidence of Martian life, and plans are being developed to return them to Earth in the future.


Nature News: NASA’s Perseverance rover begins key search for life on Mars


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Jun 08, 2022
Audio long read: The brain-reading devices helping paralysed people to move, talk and touch
22:28

Brain–computer interfaces (BCIs) implanted in the brains of people who are paralysed are allowing them to control prosthetics that are restoring a range of skills.


Although the field is relatively young, researchers are making rapid advances in the abilities that these implants can restore. In the past few years, commercial interest in BCIs has soared, but many hurdles remain before these implants can be brought to market.


This is an audio version of our Feature: The brain-reading devices helping paralysed people to move, talk and touch



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Jun 06, 2022
Robot exercises shoulder cells for better tissue transplants
26:13

00:47 The robot shoulder that exercises cells

Recreating the movements that tendon cells experience as they develop in the human body is necessary for growing tissue for transplantation, but this has been difficult to achieve in a laboratory setting. Now, a team has developed a system that uses a robot shoulder to stretch and twist these cells, which they hope could be used to improve the quality of tissue grafts in the future.


Research article: Mouthuy et al.

Video: A robotic Petri dish: How to grow human cells in a robot shoulder


07:56 Research Highlights

A robotic surgeon that works within an MRI chamber, and an ancient human genome from a resident of Pompeii.


Research Highlight: Robot surgeons steer smoothly with help from magnet-free motor

Research Highlight: Vesuvius victim yields first human genome from Pompeii


10:30 Overcoming COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy

Identifying sources of vaccine hesitancy is a key challenge in public health. This week, a team show that correcting misperceptions about doctor’s COVID-19 vaccine views increased vaccination rates in the Czech Republic. The team suggest this finding could extend to other countries, and represents a cost-effective intervention for reducing vaccine hesitancy.


Research article: Bartoš et al.

News and Views: Give physicians’ views to improve COVID vaccine uptake


16:21 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, where metals are lost during their economic lifetime, and how pesticide use has spurred cockroach evolution and even affected their mating habits.


Nature News: Metal-lifespan analysis shows scale of waste

New York Times: Cockroach Reproduction Has Taken a Strange Turn


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Jun 01, 2022
Coronapod: 'A generational loss' - COVID's devastating impact on education
14:24

Despite the devastating loss of life caused by COVID-19, some researchers are arguing that the longest lasting impact of the pandemic will be on education. UN agencies calculate that more or less all school students on the planet - 1.6 billion - have faced an average of 4.5 months of school closures owing to the pandemic, the largest disruption to education in history. Teachers have been under immense pressure to keep their students happy and learning, but it is an uphill battle. In this episode of Coronapod, we discuss the research which might guide policymakers and teachers in their attempts to repair some of this damage, and ask how implementing an evidence-based system of education could have benefits beyond the pandemic.


News Feature: COVID derailed learning for 1.6 billion students. Here’s how schools can help them catch up


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May 30, 2022
X-ray analysis hints at answers to fossil mystery
26:48

00:45 The puzzle of Palaeospondylus

Over a hundred years ago, palaeontologists discovered fossils of the aquatic animal Palaeospondylus. But since then researchers have been unable to place where this animal sits on the tree of life. Now, new analysis of Palaeospondylus’s anatomy might help to solve this mystery.


Research article: Hirasawa et al.

News and Views: Clues to the identity of the fossil fish Palaeospondylus


08:18 Research Highlights

A strong, silk-based version of mother of pearl, and the parrots that use their heads when climbing.

Research Highlight: Silk imitates mother of pearl for a tough, eco-friendly material

Research Highlight: A ‘forbidden’ body type? These parrots flout the rules


10:51 How lasers revealed an ancient Amazonian civilization

Archaeologists have used LiDAR to uncover evidence of an ancient civilization buried in the Bolivian Amazon. The team’s work suggests that this area was not as sparsely populated in pre-Hispanic times as previously thought.


Research article: Prümers et al.

News and Views: Large-scale early urban settlements in Amazonia

Nature Video: Lost beneath the leaves: Lasers reveal an ancient Amazonian civilisation


16:21 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, the debate surrounding the first transplant of pig kidneys into humans, and the plants grown in lunar soil.


Nature News: First pig kidneys transplanted into people: what scientists think

BBC News: Moon soil used to grow plants for first time in breakthrough test


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May 25, 2022
How galaxies could exist without dark matter
28:12

00:47 The mystery of the missing dark matter

Dark matter makes up most of the matter in the Universe, and is thought to be needed for galaxies to form. But four years ago, astronomers made a perplexing, and controversial discovery: two galaxies seemingly devoid of dark matter. This week the team suggests that a cosmic collision may explain how these, and a string of other dark-matter-free galaxies, could have formed.


Research article: van Dokkum et al.

News and Views: Giant collision created galaxies devoid of dark matter


08:39 Research Highlights

How fossil fuel burning has caused levels of helium to rise, and a high-efficiency, hybrid solar-energy system.


Research Highlight: Helium levels in the atmosphere are ballooning

Research Highlight: Flower power: ‘Sunflower’ system churns out useful energy


10:49 Researchers experiences of the war in Ukraine

We hear the stories of scientists whose lives have been affected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including researchers who have become refugees, soldiers and activists in the face of a horrifying conflict.


Nature Feature: How three Ukrainian scientists are surviving Russia’s brutal war


20:46 Imaging the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way

Last week, a team of researchers released an image of Sagittarius A*, the supermassive blackhole at the centre of our galaxy. We hear how they took the image and what it is revealing about these enormous objects.


Nature News: Black hole at the centre of our Galaxy imaged for the first time


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May 18, 2022
Coronapod: 'viral ghosts' support idea that SARS-CoV-2 reservoirs could be behind long COVID
14:20

Millions of people around the world have been left managing the complex and amorphous syndrome that is long COVID. But the underlying cause of this myriad of symptoms is not clear. One hypothesis is that the virus is able to find a safe haven in the body from which it can bide its time and potentially re-emerge - a viral reservoir. Now researchers studying long COVID have found evidence of SARS-CoV-2 in a series of organs around the body, most notably the gut, months after the infection appears to have been cleared from the respiratory system. While there is still a long way to go before the reservoir hypothesis can be confirmed, these data provide compelling new support for the theory. In this episode of Coronapod, we discuss how the studies were carried out, why the question of long COVID's cause is so difficult to crack, and what more needs to be done to get a firm answer.


News: Coronavirus ‘ghosts’ found lingering in the gut


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May 13, 2022
Retinas revived after donor's death open door to new science
25:20

00:57 Reviving retinas to understand eyes

Research efforts to learn more about diseases of the human eye have been hampered as these organs degrade rapidly after death, and animal eyes are quite different to those from humans. To address this, a team have developed a new method to revive retinas taken from donors shortly after their death. They hope this will provide tissue for new studies looking into the workings of the human eye and nervous system.


Research article: Abbas et al.


08:05 Research Highlights

A technique that simplifies chocolate making yields fragrant flavours, and 3D imaging reveals some of the largest-known Native American cave art.


Research Highlight: How to make a fruitier, more floral chocolate

Research Highlight: Cramped chamber hides some of North America’s biggest cave art


10:54 Did life emerge in an ‘RNA world’?

How did the earliest biochemical process evolve from Earth’s primordial soup? One popular theory is that life began in an ‘RNA world’ from which proteins and DNA evolved. However, this week a new paper suggests that a world composed of RNA alone is unlikely, and that life is more likely to have begun with molecules that were part RNA and part protein.


Research article: Müller et al.

News and Views: A possible path towards encoded protein synthesis on ancient Earth


17:52 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, the ‘polarised sunglasses’ that helped astronomers identify an ultra-bright pulsar, and how a chemical in sunscreen becomes toxic to coral.


Nature: A ‘galaxy’ is unmasked as a pulsar — the brightest outside the Milky Way

Nature: A common sunscreen ingredient turns toxic in the sea — anemones suggest why


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May 11, 2022
Swapping in a bit of microbial 'meat' has big eco-gains
25:18

00:46 How a move to microbial protein could affect emissions

It’s well understood that the production of meat has large impacts on the environment. This week, a team show that replacing 20% of future meat consumption with protein derived from microbes could reduce associated emissions and halve deforestation rates.


Research article: Humpenöder et al

News and Views: Mycoprotein produced in cell culture has environmental benefits over beef


08:21 Research Highlights

How saltwater crocodiles’ penchant for pigs is driving population recovery in Australia, and solving the mystery of some eighteenth-century porcelain’s iridescent lustre.


Research Highlight: Pork dinners fuel huge crocodiles’ return from near-extinction

Research Highlight: The nanoparticles that give a famed antique porcelain its dazzle


10:47 The neurons that help mosquitoes distinguish smell

Female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes strongly prefer human odours to those of animals, but how they distinguish between them is not well understood. Now, researchers have shown that human odours strongly activate a specific area in the brains of these insects, a finding that could have important implications for mosquito-control strategies.


Research article: Zhao et al.


18:05 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, how climate change could affect virus transmission between mammals, and how the link between a dog's breed and its temperament may not be as close as previously thought.


Nature: Climate change will force new animal encounters — and boost viral outbreaks

Nature: Massive study of pet dogs shows breed does not predict behaviour


Our Webby Award winning episode: What’s the isiZulu for dinosaur? How science neglected African languages


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May 04, 2022
Coronapod: COVID and diabetes, what the science says
9:34

The true disability cost of the COVID-19 pandemic is still unknown, but more and more studies are adding to the list of potential fallout from even mild COVID 19 infection. In this episode of Coronapod we discuss a massive association study which links COVID-19 cases with an increase in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. We delve into the numbers to ask how big the risk might be? Whether any casual relationship can be drawn from this association? And what might be in store from future research into COVID and chronic disease?


News: Diabetes risk rises after COVID, massive study finds




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Apr 29, 2022
How virtual meetings can limit creative ideas
24:18

00:56 How video calls can reduce creativity

As a result of the pandemic, workers around the world have become accustomed to meeting colleagues online. To find out if this switch from face-to-face meetings came at a cost to creativity, a team compared the number of ideas generated by workers collaborating either online, or in-person. They showed that people meeting virtually produced fewer creative ideas than those working face-to-face, and suggest that when it comes to idea generation maybe it’s time to turn the camera off.


Research article: Brucks & Levav

News and Views: Virtual collaboration hinders idea generation

Video: Why video calls are bad for brainstorming


08:08 Research Highlights

Fragments from an ancient pyramid suggest earliest known use of a Maya calendar, and how sweet snacks could damage rare iguanas’ metabolism.


Research Highlight: Deer symbol hints at early adoption of Maya calendar

Research Highlight: Tourists’ sweet treats threaten rare iguanas’ health


10:34 Fish skin reveals a new type of cell division

Researchers looking at the skin cells of zebrafish have discovered a new type of cell division, which doesn’t require DNA replication. DNA is usually essential for healthy cells, but the researchers think this puzzling finding may be a temporary measure to help the fish produce skin more rapidly during growth spurts.


Research article: Chan et al.

News and Views: Stretched skin cells divide without DNA replication

Video: A new kind of cell division


16:59 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, how laser-equipped submarines could help analyse gelatinous animals’ anatomy, and a push for a flagship mission to Uranus.


The New Yorker: Shedding Light on Untouchable Sea Creatures

Nature: Next stop, Uranus? Icy planet tops priority list for next big NASA mission


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Apr 27, 2022
Audio long-read: The quest to prevent MS — and understand other post-viral diseases
18:13

Results from a huge epidemiological study found that infection by the Epstein-Barr virus increases the risk of developing multiple sclerosis 32-fold. This result, combined with emerging mechanistic insights into how the virus triggers brain damage, are raising the prospect of treating or preventing MS.


These advances come at a time when researchers are more interested than ever in what happens in the months and years following a viral infection, and highlights the issues untangling the relationships between infectious diseases and chronic conditions.


This is an audio version of our Feature: The quest to prevent MS — and understand other post-viral diseases.



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Apr 25, 2022
We could still limit global warming to just 2˚C — but there's an 'if'
18:40

00:46 What COP26 promises will do for climate

At COP26 countries made a host of promises and commitments to tackle global warming. Now, a new analysis suggests these pledges could limit warming to below 2˚C — if countries stick to them.


BBC News: Climate change: COP26 promises will hold warming under 2C


03:48 Efficiency boost for energy storage solution

Storing excess energy is a key obstacle preventing wider adoption of renewable power. One potential solution has been to store this energy as heat before converting it back into electricity, but to date this process has been inefficient. Last week, a team reported the development of a new type of ‘photothermovoltaic’ that increases the efficiency of converting stored heat back into electricity, potentially making the process economically viable.


Science: ‘Thermal batteries’ could efficiently store wind and solar power in a renewable grid


07:56 Leeches’ lunches help ecologists count wildlife

Blood ingested by leeches may be a way to track wildlife, suggests new research. Using DNA from the blood, researchers were able to detect 86 different species in China’s Ailaoshan Nature Reserve. Their results also suggest that biodiversity was highest in the high-altitude interior of the reserve, suggesting that human activity had pushed wildlife away from other areas.


ScienceNews: Leeches expose wildlife’s whereabouts and may aid conservation efforts


11:05 How communication evolved in underground cave fish

Research has revealed that Mexican tetra fish are very chatty, and capable of making six distinct sounds. They also showed that fish populations living in underground caves in north-eastern Mexico have distinct accents.


New Scientist: Blind Mexican cave fish are developing cave-specific accents


14:36 Declassified data hints at interstellar meteorite strike

In 2014 a meteorite hit the Earth’s atmosphere that may have come from far outside the solar system, making it the first interstellar object to be detected. However, as some of the data needed to confirm this was classified by the US Government, the study wasn never published. Now the United States Space Command have confirmed the researchers’ findings, although the work has yet to be peer reviewed.


LiveScience: An interstellar object exploded over Earth in 2014, declassified government data reveal

Vice: Secret Government Info Confirms First Known Interstellar Object on Earth, Scientists Say


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Apr 20, 2022
Coronapod: Infected immune cells hint at cause of severe COVID
11:16

Since the beginning of the pandemic there has been a debate amongst researchers about whether the body's immune cells can themselves be infected by SARS-CoV-2. Now two new studies show that they can - and what's more, the work has revealed a new mechanism for the massive inflammatory response seen in severe COVID. In this episode of Coronapod, we dig into the papers, asking why it has taken so long to get an answer to this question? How immune cell infection could lead to severe disease? And whether this new mechanism could provide a new avenue for the development of therapeutics?


News: What triggers severe COVID? Infected immune cells hold clues


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Apr 15, 2022
Why do naked mole rats live as long as giraffes?
27:59

00:54 How Mammals’ mutation rates affects their lifespan

For biologists, a long-standing question has been why some animals live longer than others. This week a team have attempted to answer this, by measuring the rates that different animal species accumulate mutations. They show that longer-lived animals acquire mutations at a slower rate, which helps to explain why cancer risk does not scale with lifespan.


Research article: Cagan et al.

News and Views: Mutational clocks tick differently across species


07:56 Research Highlights

A clinical trial suggests a change to the treatment of a pregnancy ailment, and astronomers identify the largest known structure produced by a single galaxy.


Research Highlight: Ambitious trial inspires a rethink on a common ailment of pregnancy

Research Highlight: Even among ‘giant’ galaxies this one is record-setting


10:43 The war in Ukraine’s effects on global energy

Many European countries are dependent on Russian fossil fuels for energy production. Following Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, these countries are looking to wean themselves off these fuels, which could have short- and long-term impacts on emissions and food production.


Feature: What the war in Ukraine means for energy, climate and food

Editorial: The EU can simultaneously end dependence on Russia and meet climate goals

Editorial: The war in Ukraine is exposing gaps in the world’s food-systems research


19:58 A new measurement of a particle’s mass hints at new physics

Last week, a new estimate of the W boson’s mass caused much excitement among physicists. The result suggests that this particle is heavier than theory predicts, a finding that could be the first major breach in the standard model of particle physics. However, measuring W bosons is notoriously tricky, and further work will be needed to confirm the finding.


News: Particle’s surprise mass threatens to upend the standard model



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Apr 13, 2022
Five years in the coldest fridge in the known Universe
25:51

00:46 The very cool experiment looking for a proposed particle

Physics tells us that when matter is created, antimatter should be as well. But while the Universe is full of matter, there’s surprisingly little antimatter to be found. To try and understand this imbalance, a team have built a detector kept just above absolute zero which they are using to look for a hypothesised, ultra-rare type of particle decay that could create matter without antimatter.


Research article: The CUORE Collaboration

News and Views: Cryogenic mastery aids bid to spot matter creation


09:43 Research Highlights

Subsidence of coastal cities makes them more vulnerable to sea-level rise, and tackling ‘crazy ants’ with a parasitic fungus.


Research Highlight: Global cities are sinking — and humans are partly to blame

Research Highlight: Marauding crazy ants come to grief when a fungus comes to call


12:17 Solving the puzzle of the missing plasmids

Bacteria are well known for their ability to share genes, which they often do using small circles of DNA called plasmids. But while plasmids are common in bacteria, a long-standing mystery has been why they are absent in a group of cholera-causing strains of Vibrio cholerae. Now, a team might have solved this mystery, by discovering two previously unknown DNA defence systems that eliminate plasmids, hidden in the bacteria's genomes.


Research article: Jaskólska et al.

News and Views: Bacterial defence systems degrade plasmid invaders


18:41 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, what smelling jars from an Egyptian tomb has revealed about ancient burial practices, and the latest report from the IPCC.


Science: Ancient smells reveal secrets of Egyptian tomb

Nature: IPCC’s starkest message yet: extreme steps needed to avert climate disaster


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Apr 06, 2022
Audio long-read: A more-inclusive genome project aims to capture all of human diversity
18:40

While current maps of the human genome provide researchers with a wealth of information, many argue that they do not adequately capture humanity’s vast diversity.


Now, a team are trying to build a more complete and representative map that shows the varieties of sequence that can be found in different populations. However, given the failings of other projects, some geneticists focused on the needs of Indigenous communities are wary of the initiative.


This is an audio version of our Feature: A more-inclusive genome project aims to capture all of human diversity



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Apr 05, 2022
Winding roads could make you a better navigator
27:37

00:47 Your ability to find your way may depend on where you grew up

Researchers have long been trying to understand why some humans are better at navigating than others. This week, researchers show that where someone grew up plays an important role in their ability to find their way; the more winding and disorganised the layouts of your childhood were, the better navigator you’ll be later in life.


Research article: Coutrot et al.


08:57 Research Highlights

How boas can squeeze without suffocating themselves, and why being far from humans helps trees live a long life.


Research Highlight: How boa constrictors squeeze and breathe at the same time

Research Highlight: Where are Earth’s oldest trees? Far from prying eyes


11:39 How coastal storminess is changing

Coastal flooding causes billions of dollars in damage each year. Rising sea levels are known to be a key driver, but the importance of another factor, storm surges, is less clear. Typically after accounting for increasing sea level, they’re not thought to make much of an impact. However new research suggests that this may not be the case.


Research article: Calafat et al.


16:10 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, a brain implant allows a person who is completely paralysed to communicate, and penguin-like bone density suggests Spinosaurus may have hunted underwater.


Science: In a first, brain implant lets man with complete paralysis spell out thoughts: ‘I love my cool son.’

National Geographic: Spinosaurus had penguin-like bones, a sign of hunting underwater

Video: A swimming dinosaur: The tail of Spinosaurus


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Mar 30, 2022
Milky Way's origin story revealed by 250,000 stars
28:44

In this episode:


00:45 Accurately ageing stars reveals the Milky Way’s history

To understand when, and how, the Milky Way formed, researchers need to know when its stars were born. This week, a team of astronomers have precisely aged nearly a quarter of a million stars, revealing more about the sequence of events that took place as our galaxy formed.


Research article: Xiang and Rix

News and Views: A stellar clock reveals the assembly history of the Milky Way


09:53 Research Highlights

Archaeologists reveal an ancient lake was actually a ritual pool, and how the Moon’s phase affects some birds' altitude.


Research Highlight: Ancient ‘harbour’ revealed to be part of fertility god’s lavish shrine

Research Highlight: These birds fly high when the full Moon hangs in the sky


12:34 Uncovering Yellowstone’s hot water plumbing

Yellowstone National Park’s iconic geothermal geysers and volcanic landmarks are well studied, but very little was known about the ‘plumbing system’ that feeds these features. Now a team of researchers have mapped the underground hydrothermal system, showing the specific faults and pathways that supply the park.


Research article: Finn et al.


19:27 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, 0why an Australian university has been suspended from winning a research foundation’s fellowships, and the ongoing debate about the cause of ‘COVID toes’.


Nature: Funder bars university from grant programme over white-male award line-up

Nature: Are ‘COVID toes’ actually caused by the coronavirus?


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Mar 23, 2022
Coronapod: How vaccine complacency is plaguing 'COVID zero' strategies
13:50

A handful of states around the world have pursued 'COVID zero' strategies. Through a combination of intensive lockdowns, travel restrictions and comprehensive test and trace systems, regions like Tonga, New Zealand, Taiwan, mainland China and Western Australia managed to keep the virus at bay. But now many of these countries are facing new outbreaks on a scale they have not yet seen, and it is being driven in part by vaccine hesitancy. In this episode of Coronapod we discuss how a successful public health campaign can breed new problems when it comes to public perception of risk, and ask how vaccine complacency might be avoided in the future.


News: ‘COVID zero’ regions struggle with vaccine complacency


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Mar 18, 2022
The coin toss of Alzheimer's inheritance
15:23

Marty Reiswig is fit and healthy, but every two weeks he is injected with the experimental drug gantenerumab and has monthly MRI scans. He submits to this because a rare genetic mutation runs in his family that predisposes them to early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.


We spoke to him about his experience on the trial, and why he chose to continue trialling the drug even after formal clinical trials were discontinued.


Produced and narrated by Lorna Stewart.


More on this story:

News Feature: Could drugs prevent Alzheimer’s? These trials aim to find out


Resources for those affected by Alzheimer's:

Alzheimer's association

Alzheimers.gov

Alzheimer's society



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Mar 17, 2022
The vest that can hear your heartbeat
27:17

00:45 A flexible, wearable, fabric microphone

Inspired by the ear, a team of researchers have developed an acoustic fibre that can be woven into fabrics to create a sensitive microphone. This fabric microphone is capable of detecting human speech and heartbeats, and the team think it could be used to develop new, wearable sensors for long-term health monitoring.


Research article: Yan et al.

News and Views: A smart sensor that can be woven into everyday life


08:38 Research Highlights

How a shark’s posture lets you know if it’s asleep, and the desert dust that helps cirrus clouds form.


Research Highlight: The secrets of shark sleep

Research Highlight: Wispy clouds are born of dust in the wind


11:31 How AI helped Togo target financial aid

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the government of Togo needed to distribute financial aid to citizens most in need of assistance. As running a nationwide survey to find out people’s financial situations was impossible, they turned to machine learning to discover how best to distribute aid.


Research article: Aiken et al.


19:02 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. Using machine learning to find meteorite fragments in a desert, and using radiocarbon dating to detect forged paintings.


Physics World: ‘Huge leap’ as scientists report first drone-assisted space rock recovery after observed meteorite fall

Nature: Police rely on radiocarbon dating to identify forged paintings


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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Mar 16, 2022
The AI that deciphers ancient Greek graffiti
27:51

00:46 The AI helping historians read ancient texts

Researchers have developed an artificial intelligence that can restore and date ancient Greek inscriptions. They hope that it will help historians by speeding up the process of reconstructing damaged texts.


Research article: Assael et al.

News and Views: AI minds the gap and fills in missing Greek inscriptions

Video: The AI historian: A new tool to decipher ancient texts

Ithaca platform


08:53 Research Highlights

Pollinators prefer nectar with a pinch of salt, and measurements of a megacomet’s mighty size.


Research Highlight: Even six-legged diners can’t resist sweet-and-salty snacks

Research Highlight: Huge comet is biggest of its kind


11:10 Rewilding Argentina

This week Nature publishes a Comment article from a group who aim to reverse biodiversity loss by reintroducing species to areas where they are extinct. We speak to one of the Comment’s authors about the project and their hopes that it might kick start ecosystem restoration.


Comment: Rewilding Argentina: lessons for the 2030 biodiversity targets


21:02 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, giant bacteria that can be seen with the naked eye, and how record-breaking rainfall has caused major floods in Australia.


Science: Largest bacterium ever discovered has an unexpectedly complex cell

New Scientist: Record flooding in Australia driven by La Niña and climate change

The Conversation: The east coast rain seems endless. Where on Earth is all the water coming from?


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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Mar 09, 2022
Coronapod: why stopping COVID testing would be a mistake
16:50

As many countries start to ease or even remove COVID restrictions entirely, there are growing concerns from researchers that this will lead governments to take their eye off the ball and crucially stop collecting and reporting vital data. In this episode of Coronapod we discuss calls from two researchers to improve COVID testing and data reporting. What do they want done differently? Why does it matter? And what could such changes mean for the future of the pandemic and public health more broadly?


World View: Tracking COVID-19 infections: time for change


World View: Commit to transparent COVID data until the WHO declares the pandemic is over



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Mar 04, 2022
COVID stimulus spending failed to deliver on climate promises
30:26

00:47 G20 nations fail to cut emissions in COVID stimulus packages

The G20 economies spent $14 trillion dollars on recovery packages to escape the global recession driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many governments made pledges to deliver emissions reductions as part of these packages. This week, a team of researchers have analysed the spending to see if these promises were kept.


Comment: G20’s US$14-trillion economic stimulus reneges on emissions pledges


09:34 Research Highlights

An artificial nerve cell triggers a Venus flytrap’s snap, and a fossil shows that pterosaurs in the Jurassic period were larger than previously thought.


Research Highlight: Venus flytrap snaps shut at synthetic neuron’s command

Research Highlight: The surprisingly huge reptile that prowled the Jurassic skies


12:10 How knowing a little about someone changes how anonymous you feel

This week, a team of researchers have used lab-based studies to show how learning a little about a stranger makes a person feel that the stranger knows something about them. The team took this work out of the lab and into New York City, where they showed that providing residents with knowledge about community police officers temporarily reduced crime.


Research article: Shah & LaForest

News and Views: Letters and cards telling people about local police reduce crime


23:18 The experiences of Ukrainian researchers following the Russian invasion

Following Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, we hear about the experiences of Ukranian researchers as the conflict continues, and the outpouring of condemnation from the wider academic world.


News: Global research community condemns Russian invasion of Ukraine


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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Mar 02, 2022
Audio long-read: The race to save the Internet from quantum hackers
23:21

Almost everything we do on the Internet is made possible by cryptographic algorithms, which scramble our data to protect our privacy. However, this privacy could be under threat. If quantum computers reach their potential these machines could crack current encryption systems — leaving our online data vulnerable.


To limit the damage of this so called 'Q-day', researchers are racing to develop new cryptographic systems, capable of withstanding a quantum attack.


This is an audio version of our feature: The race to save the Internet from quantum hackers


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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Feb 28, 2022
Dinosaur-destroying asteroid struck in spring
24:42

00:47 Pinpointing the season when an asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs

Around 66 million years ago, an enormous asteroid struck the Earth, leading to the end of the time of the dinosaurs. In a new paper, a team of scientists looked at evidence from fossilised fish, and suggest it happened in springtime in the Northern Hemisphere.


Research article: During et al.


08:42 Research Highlights

Transparency shrinks the gender pay-gap in academia, and how Tutankhamen’s meteorite-metal dagger was forged.


Research Highlight: Gender pay gap closes after salary information goes public

Research Highlight: How a space rock became King Tut’s dagger


11:01 How climate change is affecting nighttime wildfires

Cool, damp nights are a critical barrier to fire progression around the world. But a recent study has revealed that the duration and intensity of nighttime fires has increased in many places, as a result of climate change. The researchers say this trend is likely to continue, hampering efforts to control blazes.


Research article: Balch et al.


18:56 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, how transgenic, fluorescent fish found their way into Brazil’s watercourses, and the ecological impact of a giant oil spill in Peru.


Science: Transgenic glowing fish invades Brazilian streams

Nature News: Unprecedented oil spill catches researchers in Peru off guard


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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Feb 23, 2022
Tongan volcano eruption leaves scientists with unanswered questions
24:48

Scientists scramble to understand the devastating Tongan volcano eruption, and modelling how societal changes might alter carbon emissions.


In this episode:

00:46 Understanding the Tongan eruption

On the 15th of January, a volcano in the South Pacific Ocean erupted, sending ash into the upper atmosphere, and unleashing a devastating tsunami that destroyed homes on Tonga’s nearby islands. Now scientists are trying to work out exactly what happened during the eruption — and what it means for future volcanic risks.


News Feature: Why the Tongan eruption will go down in the history of volcanology


08:49 Research Highlights

The genes associated with reindeers’ roaming behaviour, and how fossilised puke has thrown up new insights into pterosaurs’ stomachs.


Research Highlight: A reindeer’s yearning to travel can be read in its genes

Research Highlight: Petrified puke shows that ancient winged reptiles purged


11:29 Modelling societal changes to carbon emissions

A team of researchers have modelled what humans might do in the face of climate change, and looked at how societal, political and technological changes could alter future emissions.


Research article: Moore et al.


18:12 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, China alters its guidelines for gene-edited crops, and how Guinea worm infections have been driven down from millions of cases a year to just 14.


Nature News: China’s approval of gene-edited crops energizes researchers

Nature News: Just 14 cases: Guinea worm disease nears eradication


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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Feb 16, 2022
Coronapod: How African scientists are copying Moderna's COVID vaccine
0
Vaccine inequity continues to be one of the greatest challenges in the pandemic - with only 10% of those in low- and middle-income countries fully vaccinated. One of the biggest hold-ups is a lack of vaccine manufacturing capacity in poorer nations. But now, researchers at the WHO technology-transfer hub have completed the first step in a project aimed at building vaccine manufacturing capacity in the Global South, by successfully replicating Moderna's COVID vaccine without assistance from the US-based biotech company. In this episode of Coronapod, we ask how they did it? What happens next? What the legal ramifications might be and what this could mean for the future of vaccine manufacture in low- and middle-income countries? Both during the pandemic and beyond.News: South African scientists copy Moderna's COVID vaccineNews: The fight to manufacture COVID vaccines in lower-income countriesEditorial: Africa is bringing vaccine manufacturing homeSubscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.

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Feb 11, 2022
RNA test detects deadly pregnancy disorder early
0
RNA in blood shows signs of pre-eclampsia before symptoms occur, and the issues of urine in our sewage and what can be done about it.

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Feb 09, 2022
Coronapod: what people get wrong about endemic COVID
0
The word endemic is often mistakenly used to describe a rosy end to the pandemic where COVID-19 becomes a mild, but ever-present infection akin to the common cold. But this is by no means guaranteed and the reality could be much less favourable. In this episode of Coronapod we get the evolutionary virologist's take - asking what endemicity might really look like, and what control we still have in shaping the future of SARS-CoV-2.World View: COVID-19: endemic doesn’t mean harmlessSubscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.

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Feb 04, 2022
Weirdly flowing water finally has an explanation: 'quantum friction'
0
How quantum friction explains water’s strange flows in carbon nanotubes, and the latest from the Nature Briefing.

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Feb 02, 2022
Coronapod: Why T cells have been overlooked
0
Much of the coverage of COVID immunity often focuses on antibody response and for good reason - these small, y-shaped proteins can detect, and in some cases neutralise, viruses like SARS-CoV-2. But as variants like Omicron evolve to evade antibodies, the role of another part of the immune system, T cells, has been brought into sharper focus. These immune cells work in a different way to antibodies, attacking infected cells rather than the virus itself, which can make their response broader and more robust. Now, research is showing that, unlike antibodies, T cell potency is not impacted by the mutations in variants like Omicron. In this episode of Coronapod, we ask why T cells are so often overlooked, and what role they might be playing in our protection from the coronavirus.News:‘Killer’ immune cells still recognize Omicron variantSubscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.

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Jan 28, 2022
How can battery-powered aircraft get off the ground?
0
Getting electric planes to take off, and the latest from the Nature Briefing.

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Jan 26, 2022
Audio long read: Is precision public health the future — or a contradiction?
0
The burgeoning field of precision public health is a tech-centric approach that looks to target public-health interventions to the specific people who need them.Precision approaches are taking off and its advocates say this concept promises to save money and lives. However, other researchers are concerned that as funders provide huge amounts of money for precision-public-health initiatives, the focus will be taken away from conventional public health approaches that could improve the lives of millions.This is an audio version of our feature: Is precision public health the future — or a contradiction?

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Jan 24, 2022
Coronapod: COVID death toll is likely millions more than official counts
0
As of January 2022, the WHO reports that 5.5 million people have lost their lives to the pandemic. However, many research groups suggests that this number is likely to be a significant underestimate, although it is hard to be certain as counting mortality across the world is an exceptionally difficult task. In this episode of Coronapod we ask why, and delve into the range of approaches scientists are taking to try to get to the bottom of the sticky problem - from excess death counts, to machine learning and even satellite imagery.News Feature: The pandemic’s true death toll: millions more than official countsSubscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.

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Jan 21, 2022
Why mutation is not as random as we thought
0
Challenging the dogma of gene evolution, and how chiral nanoparticles could give vaccines a boost.

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Jan 19, 2022
Podcast Extra: Recreating the lost sounds of spring
0
As our environments change, so too do the sounds they make — and this change in soundscape can effect us in a whole host of ways, from our wellbeing to the way we think about conservation. In this Podcast Extra we hear from one researcher, Simon Butler, who is combining citizen science data with technology to recreate soundscapes lost to the past. Butler hopes to better understand how soundscapes change in response to changes in the environment, and use this to look forward to the soundscapes of the future.Nature Communications: Bird population declines and species turnover are changing the acoustic properties of spring soundscapesSubscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.

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Jan 14, 2022
Webb Space Telescope makes history after tense launch
0
In this episode of the Nature Podcast, we catch up on the biggest science stories from the holiday period by diving into the Nature Briefing.

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Jan 12, 2022
Science in 2022: what to expect this year
0
In this episode, Nature reporter Davide Castelvecchi joins us to talk about the big science events to look out for in 2022. We'll hear about vaccines, multiple Moon missions, the push to save biodiversity, and more.

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Jan 05, 2022
Audio long-read: The secret lives of cells — as never seen before
16:04
Cutting-edge microscopy techniques are letting researchers visualize biological molecules within cells, rather than studying them in isolation. This approach is providing new insights into how these structures interact in this complex environment.This is an audio version of our feature: The secret lives of cells — as never seen before

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Dec 31, 2021
Our podcast highlights of 2021
36:10
The Nature Podcast team select some of their favourite stories from the past 12 months.

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Dec 29, 2021
The Nature Podcast annual holiday spectacular
33:54

Games, seasonal science songs, and Nature’s 10.


01:12 "Oh powered flight"

In the first of our festive songs, We pay tribute to NASA's Ingenuity craft - which took the first powered flight on another planet earlier this year. Lyrics by Noah Baker and performed by The Simon Langton School choir, directed by Emily Renshaw-Kidd.

Scroll to the bottom of the page for the lyrics.


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

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


07:40 Communicating complex science with common words

In this year’s festive challenge, our competitors try to describe some of the biggest science stories of the year, using only the 1,000 most commonly used words in the English language. Find out how they get on…

Test your skills communicating complex science with simple words with the Up-Goer Five Text Editor


18:04 Alphafold oh Alphafold

Our second song brings some Hanukkah magic to Deep Mind's protein solving algorithm Alphafold. Lyrics by Kerri Smith and Noah Baker, arranged and performed by Phil Self.

Scroll to the bottom of the page for the lyrics.


News: ‘It will change everything’: DeepMind’s AI makes gigantic leap in solving protein structures


21:01 Nature’s 10

Every year, Nature’s 10 highlights some of the people who played key roles in science. We hear about a few of the people who made the 2021 list.


News Feature: Nature's 10 — Ten people who helped shape science in 2021



Oh Powered flight


O fateful night!

The stars are brightly shining

it is the night to look far beyond the Earth!

Long was the way to get to the red planet,

‘til he appear'd and the world felt his worth.

The thrills and hope as he warmed up his motors.

Delays cause stress until the glorious morn!


Rise! To the skies.

Above the Martian surface.

Oh powered flight.

Hearts are full, as history’s made.

Oh joy, it flies!

Mars-copter, for the first time.


Led by a team, adept in aeronautics,

they rethought all of their theories of flight.

So led by da-ta, they crafted all the rotors,

to create lift though the atmosphere was light.

Viscosity is what would make is happen,

but Reynold’s number drove the craft’s design.


Rise! To the skies.

Above the Martian surface.

Oh powered flight.

Hearts are full, as history’s made.

Oh joy, it flies!

Mars-copter, for the first time.


Truly it showed, our exploration’s boundless,

with caves and canyon’s now all within our grasp.

Ingenuity will pave the way for others,

to pair with rovers, or solo payload tasks.

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,

Let all within us praise this great success.


Rise! To the skies.

Above the Martian surface.

Oh powered flight.

Hearts are full, as history’s made.

Oh joy, it flies!

Mars-copter, for the first time.



Alphafold oh Alphafold


Oh, Alphafold oh...


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Dec 22, 2021
Coronapod: Omicron - your questions answered
31:33

Several weeks after the Omicron variant was first identified, it has quickly spread across the world. Early data are showing clear signals that the latest variant of concern is able to evade immunity and spread at a rate faster than any other variant to date. But many questions remain unanswered about the severity of infection, the protection afforded by natural and vaccine-derived immunity, and the impact Omicron could have on the global pandemic response. In this episode, we delve into the very latest studies to take stock of where we are so far and, in a Coronapod first, take on questions sent in by Coronapod listeners.


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

News: Omicron likely to weaken COVID vaccine protection

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

News Feature: Beyond Omicron: what’s next for COVID’s viral evolution


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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Dec 17, 2021
Pluto's strange ice patterns explained by new theory
25:30

An explanation for giant ice structures on Pluto, and dismantling the mestizo myth in Latin American genetics.


In this episode:

00:46 The frozen root of Pluto’s polygonal patterns

In 2015, NASA’s New Horizons probe sent back some intriguing images of Pluto. Huge polygonal patterns could be seen on the surface of a nitrogen-ice ice filled basin known as Sputnik Planitia. This week, a team put forward a new theory to explain these perplexing patterns.


Research article: Morison et al.


06:15 Research Highlights

How Pamplona’s bull-running defies the dynamics of crowd motion, and self-healing microbial bio-bricks.


Research Highlight: Running of the bulls tramples the laws of crowd dynamics

Research Highlight: It’s alive! Bio-bricks can signal to others of their kind


09:06 How the mixed-race ‘mestizo’ myth has fostered discrimination

The term 'mestizo' emerged during the colonial period in Latin America to describe a blend of ethnicities – especially between Indigenous peoples and the Spanish colonizers. But this label is a social construct not a well-defined scientific category. Now researchers are challenging the mestizo myth, which they say is harmful and has a troubling influence on science.


Feature: How the mixed-race mestizo myth warped science in Latin America


17:22 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, how interrupted sleep could be a route to creativity, and the development of vaccines to target respiratory syncytial virus.


New Scientist: Interrupting sleep after a few minutes can boost creativity

Nature News: The race to make vaccines for a dangerous respiratory virus


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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Dec 15, 2021
Coronapod: vaccines and long COVID, how protected are you?
17:54

Vaccines significantly reduce the risk of developing COVID-19, but scientists are now asking what effect the vaccines might have on long COVID. Long COVID is a somewhat ill-defined, but common, syndrome that can arise from even mild cases of COVID19 - with symptoms ranging from chronic fatigue to breathing difficulties and even neurological deficiency. But little is known about what triggers long COVID, or how to prevent it. As public health experts consider protection measures, the role of vaccines in protecting against long COVID is poorly understood, and although numerous studies are seeking answers, they are turning up conflicting results.


In this episode of Coronapod we pick through a selection of these studies, discuss the prevailing hypotheses on the causes of long COVID and ask how all of this might impact the pandemic.


News Feature: Do vaccines protect against long COVID? What the data say


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 likely to weaken COVID vaccine protection

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

News Feature: Beyond Omicron: what’s next for COVID’s viral evolution



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Dec 10, 2021
How 'megastudies' are changing behavioural science
28:26

Speeding up comparisons of behavioural interventions, and what to expect from the James Webb Space Telescope.


In this episode:

00:45 Identifying effective interventions with a 'megastudy'

Comparing single behavioural interventions and identifying which is most effective can be difficult and time consuming, hampering policy-making decisions. This week, a team demonstrate a ‘megastudy’, which allows researchers to compare multiple interventions within the same group of people.


Research article: Milkman et al.

News and Views: Benefits of megastudies for testing behavioural interventions


10:36 Research Highlights

The feeding habits of a giant, extinct eagle, and the relatively undisturbed life of a group of exoplanets.

Research Highlight: This enormous eagle could have killed you, probably

Research Highlight: Famous space family has a surprisingly peaceful history



13:07 What to expect from the Webb Telescope

Decades in the making, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is finally due to launch later this month. We discuss the telescope’s mission and what it might reveal about the Universe.

Feature: The $11-billion Webb telescope aims to probe the early Universe

News: NASA won’t rename James Webb telescope — and astronomers are angry



20:27 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, the supermassive black holes headed for impact (in 250 million years), and a new dinosaur with an unusual tail weapon.

New Scientist: A pair of nearby supermassive black holes are heading for a collision

New York Times: Spike-tailed ankylosaur was built like a tank


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


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Dec 08, 2021
Coronapod: How has COVID impacted mental health?
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


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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Dec 03, 2021
What’s the best diet for people and the planet?
26:45

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


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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Dec 01, 2021
Audio long-read: The chase for fusion energy
22:41

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
9:26

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
22:36

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


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 24, 2021
Sea squirts teach new lessons in evolution
24:39

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
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
18:16

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?
20:19

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
19:47

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
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
27:54

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?
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
35:00

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
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
25:40

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
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
26:19

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
23:42


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
18:16


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
12:51

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.


Read a written version of Starting up in science



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Sep 29, 2021
Starting up in science: Episode 2
12:43

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
10:46

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.


Read a written version of Starting up in science



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Sep 29, 2021
Audio long-read: Can artificially altered clouds save the Great Barrier Reef?
15:40

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
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
19:18

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'
22:26

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
13:33

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
29:56

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
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
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
32:41

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
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


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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Aug 14, 2021
The brain cells that help animals navigate in 3D
26:01

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
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
31:28

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?
23:13

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
24:01

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
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
26:33

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?
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
36:57

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?
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
29:30

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
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
26:13

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
22:08

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?
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
27:43

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
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
30:38

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
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
25:40

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


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


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Jun 09, 2021
Coronapod: Uncertainty and the COVID 'lab-leak' theory
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
18:06

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
20:50

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?
21:22

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
17:26

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
8:37

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
26:28

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
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
19:41

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
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.


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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Apr 30, 2021
What fruit flies could teach scientists about brain imaging
17:50

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


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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Apr 28, 2021
Audio long-read: How drugmakers can be better prepared for the next pandemic
18:53

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
16:18

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
26:12

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


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


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Apr 21, 2021
Coronapod: could COVID vaccines cause blood clots? Here's what the science says
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
18:42

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
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


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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Apr 09, 2021
Audio long-read: Rise of the robo-writers
23:47

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
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?


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


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
28:53

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


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


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

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
28:00

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?


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


Video: The quantum world of diamonds



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Mar 24, 2021
Coronapod: Why COVID antibody treatments may not be the answer
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?


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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Mar 19, 2021
The AI that argues back
22:45

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


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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Mar 17, 2021
Coronapod: COVID and pregnancy - what do we know?
13:07

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
29:59

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


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


Video: Deep-sea soft robots



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Mar 10, 2021
Coronapod: COVID's origins and the 'lab leak' theory
18:14

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
26:07

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


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


Video: How to build a Quantum Internet



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Mar 03, 2021
Coronapod: Google-backed database could help answer big COVID questions
19:18

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?
26:24

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
22:53

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
16:51

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
30:56

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?
16:16

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
27:12

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
17:51

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
27:44

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


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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Feb 03, 2021
Coronapod: Fixing the world’s pandemic alarm
21:01

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
15:28

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
27:44

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
36:44

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


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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Jan 20, 2021
Coronapod: The rise of RNA vaccines
19:51

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


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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Jan 14, 2021
The mysterious extinction of the dire wolf
32:23

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


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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Jan 13, 2021
Audio long-read: Controlling COVID with science - Iceland's story
20:50

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
48:00

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
25:53

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
36:47

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
38:05

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


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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Dec 09, 2020
Norway's prime minister reveals plans to protect the world's oceans
15:56

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



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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Dec 03, 2020
Cellular ageing: turning back the clock restores vision in mice
46:22

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
35:20

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!


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 25, 2020
Coronapod: What could falling COVID death rates mean for the pandemic?
16:20

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
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
19:10

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
39:36

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


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 11, 2020
A powerful radio burst from a magnetic star
34:43

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


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 04, 2020
Talking politics, talking science
23:27

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
24:19

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
28:26

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
38:46

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
37:55

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
39:59

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.


The paper covered in this podcast has been retracted following concerns surrounding data processing steps.

Read more in this article: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-03066-z

The retracted paper can be found here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2801-z


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
18:17

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?
43:29

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
35:43

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
37:59

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


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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Sep 23, 2020
Genes chart Vikings' spread across Europe
35:34

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


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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Sep 16, 2020
A new way to cool computer chips — from within
39:09

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


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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Sep 09, 2020
Revealed: A clearer view of how general anaesthetics actually work
35:40

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
34:39

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
37:20

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


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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Aug 19, 2020
The chemical that turns locusts from Jekyll into Hyde
31:56

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


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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Aug 12, 2020
Audio long-read: Pluto’s dark side is overflowing with secrets
18:11

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
33:54

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
42:26

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


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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Jul 22, 2020
Graphene’s magic angle reveals a new twist
38:03

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
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
24:48

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


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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Jul 08, 2020
Coronapod: Lessons from pandemic ‘war-game’ simulations
33:03

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


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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Jul 03, 2020
What the atomic structure of enamel tells us about tooth decay
22:42

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?


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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Jul 01, 2020
Coronapod: The state of the pandemic, six months in
32:08

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.


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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Jun 26, 2020
How playing poker can help you make decisions
26:42

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


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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Jun 24, 2020
Coronapod: Dexamethasone, the cheap steroid that could cut coronavirus deaths
37:37

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


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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Jun 19, 2020
Incest in the elite of Neolithic Ireland
29:23

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


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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Jun 17, 2020
Long Read Podcast: Enigmatic neutron stars may soon give up their secrets
15:35

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
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
22:15

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
1:17

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
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
23:43

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
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<