Top New Science Podcasts: Reopening Schools Amid Covid-19, Oil Processing

science-magazine-podcastsContributing Correspondent Gretchen Vogel talks about what can be learned from schools around the world that have reopened during the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, few systematic studies have been done, but observations of outbreaks in schools in places such as France or Israel do offer a few lessons for countries looking to send children back to school soon. 

The United Kingdom and Germany have started studies of how the virus spreads in children and at school, but results are months away. In the meantime, Gretchen’s reporting suggests small class sizes, masks, and social distancing among adults at schools are particularly important measures.

Also this week, Sarah talks with Kiristie Thompson, a Ph.D. student in the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, about increasing the efficiency of petroleum processing. If all—or even some—petroleum processing goes heat free, it would mean big energy savings. Around the world, about 1% of all energy use goes to heating up petroleum in order to get useful things such as gas for cars or polymers for plastics. These days, this separation is done through distillation, heating, and separating by boiling point. Kirstie describes a heat-free way of getting this separation—by using a special membrane instead. Read a related Insight.

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