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.
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
Contributing Correspondent Dennis Normile talks about a long-term study involving the survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. Seventy-five years after the United States dropped nuclear bombs on the two cities in Japan, survivors are still helping scientists learn about the effects of radiation exposure.
Also this week, Sarah talks with Winnie Lau, senior manager for preventing ocean plastics at Pew Charitable Trusts about her group’s paper about what it would take to seriously fight the flow of plastics into the environment. This week’s episode was produced with help from Podigy.