Tag Archives: Nature.com

Science Podcast: How Brain Cells Use Energy, Lobster Bellies & Red Meat

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

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

Science: Laser-Cooled Antimatter, Economic Cost Of Invasive Species

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

Science: Optical Atomic Clocks Redefine Time, Astronomer Vera Rubin

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?

Science: Computer AI That Debates, Sea Slugs Regrow Entire Bodies (Podcast)

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.

Science Podcast: Unequal Surge In Research Papers, Energy Without Oxygen

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

Science Podcast: Million-Year-Old Mammoth DNA, Art In Science & Jupiter

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

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.

Covid-19: Understanding The New Variants & New Vaccines Effectiveness

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

Science Podcast: Secrets Of Einsteinium, Chemicals Sap Ozone & Traffic Jams

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

In this episode:

01:04 Einsteinium’s secrets

Einsteinium is an incredibly scarce, man-made 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

Science Podcast: Spinal Cord Injury Device, Hand Gestures & Saturn’s Tilt

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?