Science: Pluto’s Giant Ice Patterns, Pamplona’s Bull-Running Crowd Dynamics

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

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