Host Sarah Crespi talks with Contributing Correspondent Joshua Sokol about magnetars—highly magnetized neutron stars. A recent intense outburst of gamma rays from a nearby galaxy has given astronomers a whole new view on these mysterious magnetic monsters.
Also on this week’s show, Christoph Zollikofer, a professor of anthropology at the University of Zurich, talks about the evolution of humanlike brains. His team’s work with brain-case fossils suggests the complex brains we carry around today were not present in the early hominins to leave Africa, but later developed in the cousins they left behind.
Podcast Producer Meagan Cantwell talks with Pamela Soltis, a professor and curator with the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida and the director of the University of Florida Biodiversity Institute, about how natural collections at museums can be a valuable resource for understanding future disease outbreaks.
Read the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report Biological Collections: Ensuring Critical Research and Education for the 21st Century. This segment is part of our coverage of the 2021 AAAS Annual Meeting.
Also on this week’s show, Katharina Schmack, a research associate at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, joins producer Joel Goldberg to talk about giving mice a quiz that makes them hallucinate. Observing the mice in this state helps researchers make connections between dopamine, hallucinations, and mental illness.
Science Staff Writer Kelly Servick discusses how physicians have sifted through torrents of scientific results to arrive at treatments for SARS-CoV-2.
Sarah also talks with Wesley Reinhart, of Pennsylvania State University’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering and Institute for Computational and Data Science, about why we should be building smart cities from smart materials, such as metamaterials that help solar panels chase the Sun, and living materials like self-healing concrete that keep buildings in good shape.
Science Staff Writer Adrian Cho joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about plans for the next generation of gravitational wave detectors—including one with 40-kilometer arms.
The proposed detectors will be up to 10 times more sensitive than current models and could capture all black hole mergers in the observable universe.
Sarah also talks with Pavani Cherukupally, a researcher at Imperial College London and the University of Toronto, about her Science Advances paper on cleaning up oil spills with special cold-adapted sponges that work well when crude oil gets clumpy.
Science’s Online News Editor David Grimm joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about a 2000-year-old pet cemetery found in the Egyptian city of Berenice and what it can tell us about the history of human-animal relationships.
Also this week, Dipon Ghosh, a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, talks about how scientists missed that the tiny eyeless roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans, which has been intensively studied from top to bottom for decades, somehow has the ability to detect colors.
Science Staff Writer Jon Cohen joins host Sarah Crespi to take on some of big questions about the COVID-19 vaccines, such as: Do they stop transmission? Will we need boosters? When will life get back to “normal.”
Sarah also talks with Anders Johansen, professor of planetary sciences and planet formation at the University of Copenhagen, about his Science Advances paper on a new theory for the formation of rocky planets in our Solar System. Instead of emerging out of ever-larger collisions of protoplanets, the new idea is that terrestrial planets like Earth and Mars formed from the buildup of many small pebbles.
Science journalist Rachel Cernansky joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about progress on Africa’s Great Green Wall project and the important difference between planting and growing a tree.
Sarah also talks with Václav Kuna, a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Geophysics of the Czech Academy of Sciences, about using loud and long songs from fin whales to image structures under the ocean floor.