Tag Archives: Nature Magazine

Science Podcast: Dire Wolf Extinction, Pluto’s Blue Haze & Mice Empathy

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

Science Podcasts: Birds & Sensory Pollution, Covid-19 Vaccine And Tiny Bats

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.

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 toothbrushResearch 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 meltsScience: Woman the hunter: Ancient Andean remains challenge old ideas of who speared big game

Science Podcasts: Beetle’s Strong Exoskeleton Helps Engineers, Covid-19 Trials

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.

Top Science Podcasts: Plastic Diamond-Like Crystals, Rapid Antigen Tests & Stinging Trees

Nature reports on: Coaxing tiny colloid particles into a diamond structure, rapid antigen tests 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 doIf 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 warmsResearch 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 readNature News: Microscopy illuminates charcoal’s sketchy origins

Top New Science Podcasts: Yeasts Making Medicine, Covid-19 & Anaesthesia

Nature reviews: Engineering yeast to produce medicines, immunity to Covid-19, 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 pleasureResearch 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 pigBusiness 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

Top New Science Podcasts: ‘Broken Hill Skull’ Age, Early Cancer Detection & Antarctic Rain Forest

nature-podcastsThis week, reassessing the age of the ‘Broken Hill skull’, and unearthing evidence of an ancient forest near the South Pole.

In this episode:

01:25 A skull’s place in history

After nearly a century scientists believe they’ve finally pinned down an age for the ‘Broken Hill skull’ hominid specimen. Research Article: Grun et al.

07:44 Research Highlights

A simple way to detect early signs of cancer, and 3D printed soft brain implants. Research Highlight: A blood test finds deadly cancers before symptoms startResearch Article: Yuk et al.

09:51 Ancient Antarctic rain forest

Digging deep below the sea-floor, researchers have uncovered evidence of a verdant forest that existed on Antarctica around 90 million years ago. Research Article: Klages et al.

15:47 Research Highlights

Walking more, regardless of the intensity, may improve health. Research Highlight: More steps a day might keep the doctor away

Top Scientific Podcasts: Carbon-Based Computing And Depleting Ancient-Human Genomes (Nature)

Nature PodcastA nanotube microprocessor: Scientists are looking beyond silicon, by constructing a computer chip using carbon nanotubes.

Using ancient-human remains conscientiously: While genetic sequencing of ancient-human remains is providing more information than ever, these remains must be safeguarded, warn researchers.

In this episode:

00:45 A nanotube microprocessor

Scientists are looking beyond silicon, by constructing a computer chip using carbon nanotubes. Research article: Shulaker et al.News and Views: Nanotube computer scaled up

08:38 Research Highlights

Weighing neutrinos, and discovering a hidden Zika epidemic. Research Highlight: Lightest neutrino is at least 6 million times lighter than an electronResearch Highlight: Cuba’s untold Zika outbreak uncovered

10:29 Using ancient-human remains conscientiously

While genetic sequencing of ancient-human remains is providing more information than ever, these remains must be safeguarded, warn researchers. Comment: Use ancient remains more wisely

17:21 News Chat

The discovery of a 3.8-million-year-old hominin skull, and using CRISPR to make ‘smart’ materials. News: Rare 3.8-million-year-old skull recasts origins of iconic ‘Lucy’ fossil; News: CRISPR cuts turn gels into biological watchdogs