Tag Archives: Nature Podcasts

Science: CNO Neutrinos At The Sun’s Core, Covid-19 & Contraception (Podcast)

Scientists have finally confirmed the existence of a CNO cycle fusion reaction in the Sun, and why women’s contraception research needs a reboot.

In this episode:

00:47 Detection of CNO neutrinos

Since the 1930s it has been theorised that stars have a specific fusion reaction known as the CNO cycle, but proof has been elusive. Now, a collaboration in Italy report detection of neutrinos that show that the CNO cycle exists.

Research article: The Borexino Collaboration

News and Views: Neutrino detection gets to the core of the Sun

08:48 Coronapod

We discuss the search for the animal origin of SARS-CoV-2, with researchers raiding their freezer draws to see if any animals carry similar viruses, and the latest vaccine results.

News: Coronaviruses closely related to the pandemic virus discovered in Japan and Cambodia

News: Why Oxford’s positive COVID vaccine results are puzzling scientists

19:32 Research Highlights

How sleep patterns relate to ageing, and a solar-powered steam sterilizer.

Research Highlight: For better health, don’t sleep your age

Research Highlight: Technology for sterilizing medical instruments goes solar

21:50 Getting women’s contraception research unstuck

Since the 1960s there has been little progress on research into women’s contraceptives. This week in Nature, researchers argue that this needs to change.

Comment: Reboot contraceptives research — it has been stuck for decades

29:35 Briefing Chat

We discuss a highlight from the Nature Briefing. This time, a tool to summarise papers.

Nature News: tl;dr: this AI sums up research papers in a sentence

Science Podcasts: Radio Bursts In Milky Way, Covid-19 In Schools & Octopuses

Astronomers pin down the likely origins of mysterious fast radio bursts, Covid-19 in schools, octopuses taste with touch and the latest on what the US election means for science.

In this episode:

00:46 The origins of mysterious fast radio bursts

The detection of a brief but enormously-powerful radio burst originating from within the Milky Way could help researchers answer one of astronomy’s biggest mysteries.

Research article: Bochenek et al.News: Astronomers spot first fast radio burst in the Milky Way

07:59 Coronapod

At the start of the pandemic, there were fears that schools could become hotspots for infections. We discuss the evidence suggesting that this is unlikely to be the case, and the rates of infection in children of different ages.

News: Why schools probably aren’t COVID hotspots

18:34 Research Highlights

Octopuses taste with touch, and a tool to watch dangerously-reactive metals grow.

Research Highlight: How octopuses taste with their arms — all eight of themResearch Highlight: How to make violently reactive metals and watch them grow

21:28 An update on the US election

Although the winner of this year’s US election is unclear, we discuss the current situation and what it might mean for science.

28:58 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, ancient genomes reveal the migration of man’s best friend, and a new polio vaccine looks set to receive emergency approval.

News: Ancient dog DNA reveals 11,000 years of canine evolutionNews: New polio vaccine poised to get emergency WHO approval

New Science Podcast: Lab-Grown Mini Brains, Herd Immunity & Bat Dinosaurs

The chances of mini brains becoming sentient, herd immunity, bat-like dinosaurs, and a UK government decision threatens gender diversity in academia.

In this episode:

00:59 The ethics of creating consciousness

Brain organoids, created by culturing stem cells in a petri dish, are a mainstay of neuroscience research. But as these mini-brains become more complex, is there the chance they could become conscious, and if so, how could we tell?

News Feature: Can lab-grown brains become conscious?

09:01 Coronapod

So called ‘herd immunity’ is claimed by some as a way to break the chain of infection and curtail the pandemic. However epidemiologists say that this course of action is ineffective and will lead to large numbers of infections and deaths.

News Explainer: The false promise of herd immunity for COVID-19

20:59 Research Highlights

Volcanic ash degrades ancient art in Pompeii, and the aerial ineptitude of two bat-like dinosaurs.

Research Highlight: The volcanic debris that buried Pompeii wreaks further destruction; Research Highlight: A dead end on the way to the sky

23:22 How cutting red-tape could harm gender diversity in UK academia

The Athena SWAN scheme, designed to boost gender-equality in UK academia, has proved effective, and has been exported to countries around the world. But now a decision by the UK government to cut bureaucracy could mean that institutions pay less heed to schemes like this and threaten future efforts to increase gender diversity in UK academia.

Editorial: Equality and diversity efforts do not ‘burden’ research — no matter what the UK government says

31:00 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, oncologists discover a potential new human organ, and how re-examined fossils have given new insights into the size of baby tyrannosaurs.

Science Podcasts: Room-Temp Superconductors, Covid-19 Mask Benefits

A high pressure experiment reveals the world’s first room-temperature superconductor, and a method to target ecosystem restoration.

In this episode:

00:44 Room-temperature superconductivity

For decades, scientists have been searching for a material that superconducts at room temperature. This week, researchers show a material that appears to do so, but only under pressures close to those at the centre of the planet. Research Article: Snider et al.News: First room-temperature superconductor puzzles physicists

08:26 Coronapod

The Coronapod team revisit mask-use. Does public use really control the virus? And how much evidence is enough to turn the tide on this ongoing debate? News Feature: Face masks: what the data say

19:37 Research Highlights

A new method provides 3D printed materials with some flexibility, and why an honest post to Facebook may do you some good. Research Highlight: A promising 3D-printing method gets flexibleResearch Highlight: Why Facebook users might want to show their true colours

22:11 The best way to restore ecosystems

Restoring degraded or human-utilised landscapes could help fight climate change and protect biodiversity. However, there are multiple costs and benefits that need to be balanced. Researchers hope a newly developed algorithm will help harmonise these factors and show the best locations to target restoration. Research Article: Strassburg et al.News and Views: Prioritizing where to restore Earth’s ecosystems

28:40 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, a 44 year speed record for solving a maths problem is beaten… just, and an ancient set of tracks show a mysterious journey. Quanta: Computer Scientists Break Traveling Salesperson RecordThe Conversation: Fossil footprints: the fascinating story behind the longest known prehistoric journey

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: ‘Ice Loss In Greenland, Long-Covid & Whale Deep Dive

How current and future ice loss in Greenland compares to the past, Long-Covid, and using graphene to make ultra-sensitive radiation detectors.

In this episode:

00:45 Greenland’s historic ice loss

Climate change is accelerating the loss of ice and glaciers around the world leading to unprecedented levels of disappearance. Researchers have drilled samples from deep in the Greenland ice sheet, to model how current, and future, losses compare to those seen in the last 12,000 years. Research Article: Briner et al.News and Views: The worst is yet to come for the Greenland ice sheetEditorial: Arctic science cannot afford a new cold war

09:23 Coronapod

Despite recovering from an initial COVID-19 infection, many patients are experiencing severe symptoms months later. We find out about the impact of ‘Long Covid’ and the research that’s being done to try and understand it. News Feature: The lasting misery of coronavirus long-haulers

18:55 Research Highlights

A robot defeats humans at yet another sport, and extreme diving in Cuvier’s beaked whales. Research Highlight: A robot triumphs in a curling match against elite humansResearch Highlight: A smiling whale makes a record deep dive

21:20 A radiation detector made of graphene

Radiation-detectors known as bolometers are vital instruments in many fields of science. This week, two groups of researchers have harnessed graphene to make super sensitive bolometers that could be used to improve quantum computers, or detect subtle traces of molecules on other planets. Research Article: Lee et al.Research Article: Kokkoniemi et al.

27:49 Briefing Chat

We discuss some of the latest stories highlighted in the Nature Briefing. This week we chat about the lack of diversity in academia, and an animal ally that can protect wildlife during forest fires. Nature Careers: Diversity in science: next steps for research group leadersNational Geographic:

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: Cooling Computer Chips, Covid-19 & Avalanches

Nature looks at: Keeping electronics from overheating, Covid-19 changes, and how to include minority populations in genetic analyses.

In this episode:

00:46 Cool computers

Keeping components cool is a major hurdle when it comes to increasing electronic power. This week, we find out about a new way to integrate tiny microfluidic channels directly into circuits, to help keep them cool. Research Article: van Erp et al.

06:57 Coronapod

By comparing coronavirus genomes taken from people around the world, researchers are getting an idea of how SARS-CoV-2 is changing as it spreads. We discuss a particular genetic mutation that rapidly became dominant early in the pandemic, and the effect it may have had on the outbreak. News: The coronavirus is mutating — does it matter?

21:41 Research Highlights

How rock avalanches can cause destructive air blasts, and melting glaciers cause lakes to grow. Research Highlight: The violent blasts that can add to an avalanche’s devastationResearch Article: Shugar et al.

23:59 The people left out of genetic studies

Minority populations are often underrepresented in genetic study recruitment. However, even when data about them is collected it may go unused. We find out why, and what can be done about it. Comment: Don’t ignore genetic data from minority populations

30:51 Briefing Chat

We discuss some of the latest stories highlighted in the Nature Briefing. This week we discuss how bacterially-infected mosquitoes could curb dengue fever, and some surprisingly large black holes. Nature News: The mosquito strategy that could eliminate dengueNature News: ‘It’s mindboggling!’: astronomers detect most powerful black-hole collision yet

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: Damaged Quantum Bits, Convalescent Plasma & Ancient Ichthyosaurs

August 26, 2020: Protecting delicate quantum bits from radiation, convalescent plasma for serious Covid-19 patients and a competition to replicate findings from ancient computer code.

In this episode:

01:04 Quantum computers vs ionizing radiation

The quantum bits, or ‘qubits’, central to the operation of quantum computers are notoriously sensitive. Now, researchers have assessed the damaging effects that ionizing radiation can have on these qubits and what can be done about it. Research Article: Vepsäläinen et al.

08:15 Coronapod

We discuss the US Food and Drug Administration’s decision to authorize convalescent plasma for emergency use in COVID-19 patients. As accusations of political interference fly, what might this mean for the future of the US coronavirus response?

20:39 Research Highlights

Finding new populations of a long-lost elephant shrew, and the hunting method of ancient ichthyosaurs. Research Highlight: An elephant-nosed creature ‘lost to science’ was living just next door; Research Highlight: An extinct reptile’s last meal shows it was a grip-and-tear killer

22:34 The reproducibility of computer code

Many scientists have published papers based on code. Recently though, a gauntlet was thrown down for researchers to try to replicate their code, 10 years or more after they wrote it. Tech Feature: Challenge to scientists: does your ten-year-old code still run?

28:06 Briefing Chat

We take a look at some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time we discuss a cancer diagnosis in a dinosaur, and how to brew yourself a career outside of academia. Science: Doctors diagnose advanced cancer—in a dinosaur; Nature Careers Feature: The brews and bakes that forged career paths outside academia