First up, host Sarah Crespi talks with Staff Writer Jon Cohen about some tricky ethical questions that may arise after the first coronavirus vaccine is authorized for use in the United States. Will people continue to participate in clinical trials of other vaccines? Will it still be OK to give participants placebo vaccines?
Next, producer Meagan Cantwell talks with Bert Weckhuysen, a professor at Utrecht University, about a process for taking low-value plastic like polyethylene (often used for packaging and grocery bags) and “upcycling” it into biodegradable materials that can be used for new purposes.
The structure of a beetle’s super-strong exoskeleton could open up new engineering applications, and efforts to address diversity and equality imbalances in academia.
In this episode:
01:17 Insights into an armoured insect
The diabolical ironclad beetle has an exoskeleton so strong, it can survive being run over by a car. Researchers have identified how the structure of the exoskeleton provides this strength, and show that mimicking it may lead to improved aerospace components.
Research Article: Rivera et al.; News and Views: Diabolical ironclad beetles inspire tougher joints for engineering applications
This week, the UK government announced plans to run a ‘human challenge trial’, where healthy volunteers are deliberately infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. We talk about the process, the ethical and procedural hurdles, and whether such an approach will provide any useful data.
22:46 Research Highlights
A method to assess the age of RNA, and how southern elephant seals helped to identify supercooled seawater.
25:20 Efforts to address equity in science
Julie Posselt has been investigating the efforts of academic institutions to assess ingrained imbalances in diversity and equality. We talk to her about these efforts and her new book on the subject.
31:43 Briefing Chat
We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, back pay for female professors at Princeton, and a newly uncovered superpower for the tiny tardigrade.
Residential solar panels and battery backups are becoming more and more popular as efficiency rises and costs sink. This explosion in distributed solar makes a new idea possible: virtual power plants, or a smart network of individual solar panels that can act like a big power plant when electricity is needed most. And as extreme weather threatens many communities, this idea is arriving in the nick of time.
Learn more: https://www.theverge.com/e/21288017
In 2019, members of the National Geographic and Rolex Perpetual Planet Everest Expedition set out to install five new weather stations on Mt. Everest, including the highest weather station on Earth. Follow along as the team climbs into the mountain’s “death zone” to complete the network of weather stations in order to improve our understanding of climate change.
First up, host Meagan Cantwell speaks with Abigail Echo-Hawk, director of the Urban Indian Health Institute and chief research officer for the Seattle Indian Health Board. Echo-Hawk shares what inspired her journey in public health and explains the repercussions of excluding native people from health data.
This story was originally reported by Lizzie Wade, who profiled Echo-Hawk as part of Science’s “voices of the pandemic” series. Next, host Sarah Crespi interviews Danielle Murashige, a Ph.D. student at the University of Pennsylvania, about her Science paper that attempts to quantify how much fuel a healthy heart needs.
A high pressure experiment reveals the world’s first room-temperature superconductor, and a method to target ecosystem restoration.
In this episode:
00:44 Room-temperature superconductivity
For decades, scientists have been searching for a material that superconducts at room temperature. This week, researchers show a material that appears to do so, but only under pressures close to those at the centre of the planet. Research Article: Snider et al.; News: First room-temperature superconductor puzzles physicists
The Coronapod team revisit mask-use. Does public use really control the virus? And how much evidence is enough to turn the tide on this ongoing debate? News Feature: Face masks: what the data say
19:37 Research Highlights
A new method provides 3D printed materials with some flexibility, and why an honest post to Facebook may do you some good. Research Highlight: A promising 3D-printing method gets flexible; Research Highlight: Why Facebook users might want to show their true colours
22:11 The best way to restore ecosystems
Restoring degraded or human-utilised landscapes could help fight climate change and protect biodiversity. However, there are multiple costs and benefits that need to be balanced. Researchers hope a newly developed algorithm will help harmonise these factors and show the best locations to target restoration. Research Article: Strassburg et al.; News and Views: Prioritizing where to restore Earth’s ecosystems
28:40 Briefing Chat
We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, a 44 year speed record for solving a maths problem is beaten… just, and an ancient set of tracks show a mysterious journey. Quanta: Computer Scientists Break Traveling Salesperson Record; The Conversation: Fossil footprints: the fascinating story behind the longest known prehistoric journey
Opening new frontiers, vaccinating billions and unlocking the secrets of our universe these are the world’s most incredible science megaprojects. This video is powered by Bluebeam.
See how Bluebeam Revu was used at the European Spallation Source – https://bit.ly/312O4nk
As part of the National Geographic and Rolex Perpetual Planet Everest Expedition, a team of scientists and Sherpa guides sets out to collect information about glacial change in the Himalayas. By extracting ice cores from the highest glacier in the world, the team has begun to uncover details about climate change that have – until now – been hidden in this hard-to-reach ice. The National Geographic Society uses the power of science, exploration, education, and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world.
Learn more at http://www.natgeo.org