First up this week, Staff Writer Meredith Wadman talks with host Sarah Crespi about how male sex hormones may play a role in higher levels of severe coronavirus infections in men. New support for this idea comes from a study showing high levels of male pattern baldness in hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
Next, Jason Qian, a Ph.D. student in the systems biology department at Harvard Medical School, joins Sarah to talk about an object-tracking system that uses bacterial spores engineered with unique DNA barcodes. The inactivated spores can be sprayed on anything from lettuce, to wood, to sand and later be scraped off and read out using a CRISPR-based detection system. Spraying these DNA-based identifiers on such things as vegetables could help trace foodborne illnesses back to their source. Read a related commentary piece.
First up this week, Staff Writer Jennifer Couzin-Frankel talks with host Sarah Crespi about a rare inflammatory response in children that has appeared in a number of COVID-19 hot spots.
Next, Julian Dowdeswell, director of the Scott Polar Research Institute and professor of physical geography at the University of Cambridge, talks with producer Meagan Cantwell about tracing the retreat of Antarctica’s glaciers by examining the ocean floor. Finally, Kiki Sanford interviews author Danny Dorling about his new book, Slowdown: The End of the Great Acceleration―and Why It’s Good for the Planet, the Economy, and Our Lives.
Online News Editor David Grimm talks with producer Joel Goldberg about the unique challenges of reopening labs amid the coronavirus pandemic. Though the chance to resume research may instill a sense of hope, new policies around physical distancing and access to facilities threaten to derail studies—and even careers.
Despite all the uncertainty, the crisis could result in new approaches that ultimately benefit the scientific community and the world. Also this week, Joel Podgorski, a senior scientist in the Water Resources and Drinking Water Department at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss the global threat of arsenic in drinking water. Arsenic is basically present in all rocks in minute amounts. Under the right conditions it can leach into groundwater and poison drinking water. Without a noticeable taste or smell, arsenic contamination can go undetected for years. The paper, published in Science, estimates that more than 100 million people are at risk of drinking arsenic-contaminated water and provides a guide for the most important places to test.