The lack of adequate sanitation in parts of the rural US, and physicists reassess muons’ magnetism.
In this episode:
00:45 How failing sanitation infrastructure is causing a US public health crisis
In the US, huge numbers of people live without access to adequate sanitation. Environmental-health advocate Catherine Coleman Flowers tells us about her new book looking at the roots and consequences of this crisis, focusing on Lowndes County, Alabama, an area inhabited largely by poor Black people, where an estimated 90% of households have failing or inadequate waste-water systems.
Book review: Toilets – what will it take to fix them?
07:56 Research Highlights
Why adding new members to the team can spark ideas, and how manta rays remember the best spots for pampering.
Research Highlight: What manta rays remember: the best spots to get spruced up
10:13 Reassessing muons’ magnetic moment
A decade ago, physicists measured the ‘magnetic moment’ of the subatomic muon, and found their value did not match what theory suggested. This puzzled researchers, and hinted at the existence of new physics. Now, a team has used a different method to recalculate the theoretical result and see if this discrepancy remains.
Research Article: Fodor et al.
A computer that can participate in live debates against human opponents.
In this episode:
00:43 AI Debater
After thousands of years of human practise, it’s still not clear what makes a good argument. Despite this, researchers have been developing computer programs that can find and process arguments. And this week, researchers at IBM are publishing details of an artificial intelligence that is capable of debating with humans.
Research Article: Slonim et al.
News and Views: Argument technology for debating with humans
10:30 Research Highlights
The sea slugs that can regrow their whole body from their severed head, and evidence of high status women in ancient Europe.
Research Highlight: Now that’s using your head: a sea slug’s severed noggin sprouts a new body
Research Highlight: A breathtaking treasure reveals the power of the woman buried with it
12:56 Briefing Chat
We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, the next generation of gravitational wave detectors, and why 2020 was a record-breaking year for near-Earth asteroids.