Tag Archives: Nature Podcast

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: Pandemic Video Game, Giant Pandas & Top Ten 2020 Stories (Podcast)

A video game provides players with insights into pandemic responses, giant pandas and our annual festive fun.

In this episode:

01:02 Balancing responses in a video game pandemic

In the strategy video-game Plague Inc: The Cure, players assume the role of an omnipotent global health agency trying to tackle outbreaks of increasingly nasty pathogens. We find out how the game was developed, and how it might help change public perception of pandemic responses.

Plague Inc: The Cure from Ndemic Creations

10:02 “We three Spacecraft travel to Mars”

The first of our festive songs, we head back to July this year, and the launch of three separate space missions to the red planet. Scroll to the transcript section at the bottom of the page for the lyrics.

12:54 Research Highlights

Giant pandas roll in piles of poo to keep warm, and how different bread-baking styles have led to distinct lineages of baker’s yeast.

Research Highlight: Why pandas like to roll in piles of poo

Research Highlight: Sourdough starters give rise to a new line of yeast

15:17 The Nature Podcast Audio Charades Competition: Lockdown edition

In this year’s festive competition, our reporters try to describe some of the biggest science stories, using only homemade sound effects. Results are mixed, at best…

24:15 Nature’s 10

We hear about some of the people who made it on to this year’s Nature’s 10 list this year.

Nature’s 10: ten people who helped shape science in 2020

32:20 All I want for Christmas is vaccines

In our final festive song, we celebrate a huge scientific achievement, and one that’s offering a little hope for 2021. Scroll to the transcript section at the bottom of the page for the lyrics.

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.

New Science Podcast: U.S. Election Science Imapct, Trump Covid, Black Holes

A conversation about the US election and the possible fallout for science, Covid-19, black hole mergers and are maternal behaviours learned or innate?

In this episode:

00:46 US election

In the United States the presidential race is underway, and Nature is closely watching to see what might happen for science. We speak to two of our US based reporters to get their insight on the election and what to look out for. News Feature: A four-year timeline of Trump’s impact on scienceNews Feature: How Trump damaged science — and why it could take decades to recoverNews: What a Joe Biden presidency would mean for five key science issues

12:36 Coronapod

With news of the US President Donald Trump contracting coronavirus, the Coronapod team discuss the treatments he has received and what this might mean for the US government. News: Contact tracing Trump’s travels would require ‘massive’ effort

25:33 Research Highlights

How binary stars could become black hole mergers, and a prehistoric massacre. Research Highlight: The odd couple: how a pair of mismatched black holes formedResearch Highlight: A bustling town’s annihilation is frozen in time

27:36 Are parental behaviours innate?

Nature versus nurture is a debate as old as science itself,and in a new paper maternal behaviours are innate or learned, by looking at the neurological responses of adult mice to distress calls from mice pups. Research Article: Schiavo et al.

33:03 Briefing Chat

This week sees the announcement of the Nobel Prizes, so we chat about the winners and their accomplishments. Nature News: Physicists who unravelled mysteries of black holes win Nobel prizeNature News: Virologists who discovered hepatitis C win medicine Nobel

Top Science Podcasts: The Vikings Migration Mapped, Covid-19 Trial Is Halted, Tiniest Ultrasound Device

Nature podcast discusses: Mapping the migration of the Vikings, a leading Covid-19 vaccine trial was abruptly halted and the world’s smallest ultrasound device.

In this episode:

00:45 Following the Viking footprint across Europe

To better understand who the Vikings were, and where they went, researchers have mapped genomes from hundreds of archaeological artifacts. Research Article: Margaryan et al.

08:00 Coronapod

Phase III trials of a leading coronavirus vaccine were abruptly paused last week – we discuss how news of the event leaked out, and the arguments for transparency in clinical trials. News: A leading coronavirus vaccine trial is on hold: scientists reactNews: Scientists relieved as coronavirus vaccine trial restarts — but question lack of transparencyIf you are involved in a clinical trial for a coronavirus vaccine or treatment, please fill in our survey.

21:05 Research Highlights

A burnt grain silo gives insight into ancient tax collection, and how hummingbirds survive the cold Andean nights. Research Highlight: Ancient tax collectors amassed a fortune — until it went up in smokeResearch Highlight: Why some of the world’s zippiest birds go stiff and cold every night

23:40 Ultra-tiny ultrasound

Scientists have developed an ultrasound detector which is smaller than the wavelength of sound it detects, providing highly detailed imaging at a cellular level; Research Article: Research Article: Shnaiderman et al.

29:53 Briefing Chat

We discuss some of the latest stories highlighted in the Nature Briefing. This week we talk about why California has an orange hue, and the strangeness at the edge of the Solar System. Forbes: The Science Behind Mysterious Orange Skies In CaliforniaBBC Future: The weird space that lies outside our Solar System

Top New Science Podcasts: Pluto’s Dark Side Yields Dwarf Planet’s Secrets

Nature PodcastsIn 2015, after a nine-and-a-half-year journey, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft raced past Pluto, beaming images of the dwarf planet back to Earth.

Five years after the mission, researchers are poring over images of Pluto’s far-side, which was shrouded in shadow during New Horizon’s flypast. They hope that these images will help give a better understanding of how Pluto was born and even whether a hidden ocean resides beneath the world’s icy crust.

This is an audio version of our feature: Pluto’s dark side spills its secrets — including hints of a hidden ocean

Top New Science Podcasts: “Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer”

Nature PodcastsAn instrument on the International Space Station is providing new insights into some of the Universe’s most baffling objects. Neutron stars have puzzled scientists for decades. It’s known that these ultra-dense objects are born from the remnants of supernovae, yet what’s under their surface, and what processes that go on within them, remain a mystery.

Now, an instrument called the Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer is providing new information to help answer these questions, ushering in a new era of research into these strange stars.

This is an audio version of our feature: The golden age of neutron-star physics has arrived

Top New Science Podcasts: New Skin That Grows Hair, Spontaneous RNA (Nature)

Nature PodcastThis week, Nature looks at a new method to grow hairy skin in a dish, and new research takes aim at the RNA world hypothesis.

In this episode:

00:45 Hairy Skin

Researchers may have developed a way to make skin that can grow hair in the lab, paving the way for treatment of a variety of skin disorders, and perhaps even baldness. Research Article: Lee et al.News and Views: Regenerative medicine could pave the way to treating baldness

08:56 Research Highlights

How mercury moved during the ‘Great Dying’, and the link between mobile phones and gender equality. Research Highlight: Giant eruptions belched toxic metal during the ‘Great Dying’Research Article: Rotondi et al.

11:21 Does DNA predate life?

The RNA world hypothesis posits that RNA formed spontaneously leading eventually to life. Now new research suggests that RNA and DNA formed together, before life. Research Article: Xu et al.News and Views: How DNA and RNA subunits might have formed to make the first genetic alphabet

19:25 Pick of the Briefing

We pick our highlights from the Nature Briefing, including the recent SpaceX launch, and the earliest fossil of a land animal. CBC: Scientists find oldest fossil of a land animalNature News: SpaceX to launch astronauts — and a new era of private human spaceflight

Subscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.

Other links

Video: We test a home antibody kit for tracking Covid-19 transmission

Coronavirus: “Confusing Hydroxychloroquine Studies” (Nature Podcast)

Coronapod ReportPresident Trump’s preferred coronavirus treatment is the focus of a new study suggesting it could cause more harm than good, but not everybody agrees. We discuss the fallout as trials around the world are paused and countries diverge over policy advice.

12:12 Are we rushing science?

Coronavirus papers are being published extremely quickly, while normally healthy scientific debate is being blown up in the world’s press. Is there a balancing act between timely research and accurate messaging?

18:49 One good thing

Our hosts pick out things that have made them smile in the last week, including hedgerow brews and a trip into the past using AI.

Recipe: Elderflower ‘Champagne’

Video: Denis Shiryaev restores historic footage with AI

22:30 The latest coronavirus research papers

Noah Baker takes a look through some of the key coronavirus papers of the last few weeks.

News: Coronavirus research updates

medRxiv: Full genome viral sequences inform patterns of SARS-CoV-2 spread into and within Israel

Harvard Library: Reductions in commuting mobility predict geographic differences in SARS-CoV-2 prevalence in New York City

Science: DNA vaccine protection against SARS-CoV-2 in rhesus macaques