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.
Hawk-eagles and hornbills play to their unique strengths as they pluck bats mid-flight.
The oriental pied hornbill is an Indo-Malayan pied hornbill, a large canopy-dwelling bird belonging to the family Bucerotidae. Two other common names for this species are Sunda pied hornbill and Malaysian pied hornbill. The species is considered to be among the smallest and most common of the Asian hornbills.
When it comes to viruses jumping from animals to humans, bats hold a unique place in the transmission chain. Christopher Golden and James Longman investigate an abandoned mine for signs of poaching or viruses impacting the bat population.
Researchers try to unpick the complex relationship between sensory pollutants and bird reproduction, and how to combat organized 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.
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