Tag Archives: Science Podcasts

Science: Metabolic Health Markers & Obesity, Type 1 Diabetes, “Bone Rooms”

First this week, Staff Writer Jennifer Couzin-Frankel joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss the paradox of metabolically healthy obesity. They chat about the latest research into the relationships between markers of metabolic health—such as glucose or cholesterol levels in the blood—and obesity. They aren’t as tied as you might think.

Next, Colin Dayan, professor of clinical diabetes and metabolism at Cardiff University and senior clinical researcher at the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics at the University of Oxford, joins Sarah to discuss his contribution to a special issue on type 1 diabetes. In his review, Colin and colleagues lay out research into how type 1 diabetes can be detected early, delayed, and maybe even one day prevented. Finally, in the first of a six-patrt series of book interviews on race and science, guest host Angela Saini talks with author and professor of history at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Samuel Redman, about his book Bone Rooms: From Scientific Racism to Human Prehistory in Museums. The two discuss the legacy of human bone collecting and racism in museums today. 

Science: 890 Million-Year-Old Sponge, Caffeinated Bees, Greenland Glaciers

Researchers debate whether an ancient fossil is the oldest animal yet discovered, and a new way to eavesdrop on glaciers.

In this episode:

01:04 Early sponge

This week in Nature, a researcher claims to have found a fossil sponge from 890-million-years-ago. If confirmed, this would be more than 300-million-years older than the earliest uncontested animal fossils but not all palaeontologists are convinced.

Research Article: Turner

10:13 Research Highlights

A caffeine buzz appears to improve bees’ memory, and reconstructing an Iron Age man’s final meal.

Research Highlight: A caffeine buzz gives bees flower power

Research Highlight: The guts of a ‘bog body’ reveal sacrificed man’s final meal

12:34 Eavesdropping on a glacier’s base

We hear about one researcher’s unorthodox attempt to listen in to the seismic-whisper at the foot of a Greenland glacier – a method that might reveal more about conditions under these enormous blocks of ice.

Research Article: Podolskiy et al.

Science: Blood Tests For Alzheimer’s Treatment, Seismic Events on Mars

Science: Gun Violence Research Returns, Pikas In Winter & Glass Sponges

Funding for gun violence research in the US returns after a 20-year federal hiatus, and the glass sponges that can manipulate ocean currents.

In this episode:

00:45 Gun violence research is rebooted

For 20 years there has been no federally-funded research on gun violence in the US. In 2019, $25 million a year was allocated for this work. We speak to some of the researchers that are using these funds, and the questions they are trying to answer about gun violence.

News Feature: Gun violence is surging — researchers finally have the money to ask why

Podcast: Stick to the science

09:21 Research Highlights

Strategic laziness and yak dung help pikas survive harsh winters, and how food gets wasted in China’s supply chains.

Research Highlight: Pikas in high places have a winter-time treat: yak poo

Research Highlight: China wastes almost 30% of its food

11:40 How a sea sponge controls ocean currents

Venus’ flower baskets are marine sponges that live at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. These sponges have an unusual glass skeleton that helps them gather food, and even appears to control ocean currents.

Research Article: Falcucci et al.

News and Views: Fluid flow through a deep-sea sponge could inspire engineering designs

18:55 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, investment in non-human primate facilities, and the European Union’s latest climate plan.

Nature News: The US is boosting funding for research monkeys in the wake of COVID

BBC News: EU unveils sweeping climate change plan

Science: Race-Based Medicine, Space Tourism & Western U.S. Heatwave

Race-based medical practises are being challenged more and more, as it becomes increasingly clear they have little basis in science. 

The team finds out why adjustments for race and ethnicity are still being made in medicine, despite the potential harm and healthcare implications they cause. It’s been a massive week for the future of space tourism – the team shares a clip of a very excited Richard Branson who’s recent journey into microgravity has set the stage for the launch of Virgin Galactic’s first commercial space flights. The team gives an update on the dramatic heatwave ravaging the US, as more record high temperatures are set, continuing to leave destruction in its wake. They also explain what ‘impact gardening’ is and why it might help us find alien life on Jupiter’s moon Europa, and they share important news on the state of the cosmetics industry in Neolithic times. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Chelsea Whyte, and Layal Liverpool.

Science: Heat Waves In U.S. Impacting Minorities, Graphene Layers, Twitter

Why heat waves disproportionately impact minorities in US cities, and the researcher that critiqued his whole career on Twitter.

In this episode:

00:45 How heat waves kill unequally

Researchers are beginning to unpick how historic discrimination in city planning is making the recent heat waves in North America more deadly for some than others.

News Feature: Racism is magnifying the deadly impact of rising city heat

11:59 Research Highlights

A graphene layer can protect paintings from age, and a new and endangered species of ‘fairy lantern’.

Research Highlight: A graphene cloak keeps artworks’ colours ageles

Research Highlight: Newfound ‘fairy lantern’ could soon be snuffed out forever

14:25 Self-criticism

When researcher Nick Holmes decided to criticise his past papers, in 57 tweets, he found the reflection enlightening. Now he’s encouraging other researchers to self-criticise, to help speed scientific progress.

World View: I critiqued my past papers on social media — here’s what I learnt

20:53 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, Richard Branson’s commercial space flight, and the Maori perspective on Antarctic conservation.

The Washington Post: Richard Branson and his Virgin Galactic crew are safely back from space, ushering in a new era

The New York Times: The Maori Vision of Antarctica’s Future (intermittent paywall)

Science: History Of U.S. Opioid Crisis, 3-D Printed Protein Candy & Books

Science: Avoiding Sudden Food Scarcity, Lattice Strength, Time Neurons

Addressing the problem of sudden food scarcity in US cities, and the up-and-coming field of computational social science.

In this episode:

00:45 Food shocks

Climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and geopolitical crises can cause food shortages. To tackle this issue, Alfonso Mejia and colleagues have modelled how to best mitigate these food shocks in US cities. Alfonso tells us about the new analyses and what steps cities could take in the future.

Research Article: Gomez et al.

News and Views: How to buffer against an urban food shortage

06:07 Research Highlights

A tiny lattice can withstand the impacts of projectiles at twice the speed of sound, and the neurons that allow humans to perceive time.

Research Highlight: Supersonic strikes leave just a dent in this super-light material

Research Highlight: The ‘time neurons’ that help the brain keep track

08:25 Computational Social Science

Big data is transforming research, and social science is no exception. This week, Nature is running a special issue on ‘computational social science’. We catch up with some of the editors involved to find out more about this up-and-coming field.

Collections: Computational Social Science

19:27 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, discovering the dazzling diversity of viruses, and how China eradicated malaria.

Nature News Feature: Beyond coronavirus: the virus discoveries transforming biology

Science: It’s official: China has eliminated malaria

Health: Understanding Chronic Pain (Podcast)

Chronic pain affects about 40% of the UK population. While there is growing recognition that pain can be an illness in and of itself, there is still a lot we don’t know. 

Anand Jagatia hears from fibromyalgia sufferer Vicky Naylor on what it’s like to live with chronic pain, and the Guardian’s science correspondent Linda Geddes about the causes for these sometimes debilitating conditions. 

Science Podcast: Plastic Artifact Preservation & Extreme Pressure Gauges