Tag Archives: Top Science Podcasts

Top New Science Podcasts: Locust Swarm Triggers & Covid-19 Antibodies

Nature PodcastThis week’s Nature Podcast looks at: Triggering swarming behaviour in locusts, antibody therapies as a bridge to Covid-19 vaccine, and new insights into how humans synchronize.

In this episode:

01:56 Understanding swarming behaviour

Swarms of migratory locusts regularly devastate crops across the world, but why these swarms form has been a mystery. Now, a team of researchers have identified a compound that causes solitary locusts to come together in their billions – a finding that could have practical applications for preventing this behaviour. Research article: Guo et al.; News & Views: Catching plague locusts with their own scent

08:48 Coronapod

We discuss the role that monoclonal antibodies may have as therapeutics to treat COVID-19. Although promising, there are numerous hurdles to overcome before these drugs can be used. News: Antibody therapies could be a bridge to a coronavirus vaccine — but will the world benefit?

15:30 Research Highlights

A satellite’s fecal find reveals that Antarctica’s emperor penguin population is much larger than previously thought, and changing how genes are named to avoid Excel’s autocorrect. Research Highlight: Satellites find penguins by following the pooResearch article: Bruford et al.

17:49 An out-of-sync arts project

A collaborative art-science project featuring a network of connected violinists has given new insights into how humans synchronize. Research article: Shahal et al.

23:51 Briefing Chat

We take a look at some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time we find out about the odd immune system of the anglerfish, and the beetle that can pass through a frog’s digestive system without coming to harm. Wired: The Anglerfish Deleted Its Immune System to Fuse With Its MateResearch paper: Sugiura

Top New Science Podcasts: Pluto’s Dark Side Yields Dwarf Planet’s Secrets

Nature PodcastsIn 2015, after a nine-and-a-half-year journey, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft raced past Pluto, beaming images of the dwarf planet back to Earth.

Five years after the mission, researchers are poring over images of Pluto’s far-side, which was shrouded in shadow during New Horizon’s flypast. They hope that these images will help give a better understanding of how Pluto was born and even whether a hidden ocean resides beneath the world’s icy crust.

This is an audio version of our feature: Pluto’s dark side spills its secrets — including hints of a hidden ocean

Top New Science Podcasts: Pregnancy Risks Of Covid-19, Razor Blades & Hair

science-magazine-podcastsStaff Writer Meredith Wadman joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss the risk of the novel coronavirus infection to pregnant women. Early data suggest expectant women are more likely to get severe forms of the infection and require hospitalization. Meredith describes how the biology of pregnancy—such as changes to the maternal immune system and added stress on the heart and lungs—might explain the harsher effects of the virus.

Also this week, Sarah talks with Gianluca Roscioli about his experiments with commercial razor blades and real human hair. By using a scanning electron microscope, he was able to show how something relatively soft like hair is able to damage something 50 times harder like stainless steel.

Top New Science Podcasts: Covid-19 Vaccine Fears And Origin Controversies

Also this week, Sarah talks with Science Senior Correspondent Jon Cohen about his story on Chinese scientist Shi Zhengli, the bat researcher at the center of the COVID-19 origins controversy—and why she thinks President Donald Trump owes her an apology.

Finally, Geert Van der Snickt, a professor in the conservation-restoration department at the University of Antwerp, talks with Sarah about his Science Advances paper on a new process for peering into the past of paintings. His team used a combination of techniques to look beneath an overpainting on the Ghent Altarpiece by Hubert and Jan Van Eyck—a pivotal piece that showed the potential of oil paints and even included an early example of painting from an aerial view.

Top New Science Podcasts: How The Skin Stretches, Covid-19 Conferences And Pain Resistance Traits

Nature PodcastThis week’s Nature podcast looks at how skin’s unusual response to stretching is finally explained, a coronavirus update and the latest in a huge effort to map DNA. 

In this episode:

01:06 Stretching skin

For decades it’s been known that stretching skin causes more skin to grow, but the reasons why have been a mystery. Now, researchers have uncovered a mechanism to explain the phenomenon. Research Article: Aragona et al.News and Views: Stretch exercises for stem cells expand the skin

07:49 Coronapod

We discuss how the coronavirus pandemic has affected scientific meetings and how the learned societies that organise them are adapting. How scientific conferences will survive the coronavirus shockHow scientific societies are weathering the pandemic’s financial storm;

A year without conferences? How the coronavirus pandemic could change research

18:18 Research Highlights

A genetic trait for pain-resistance, and the accessibility-aware ancient Greeks. Research Highlight: A gene helps women in labour to skip the painkillersResearch Highlight: This temple was equipped with accessibility ramps more than 2,000 years ago

20:42 ENCODE updates

The ENCODE project aims to identify all the regions in the human genome involved in gene regulation. This week, data from its third iteration has been published and we examine the highlights. Research Article: SnyderNews and Views: Expanded ENCODE delivers invaluable genomic encyclopaedia

28:50 Briefing Chat

We take a look at some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time we look at how smallpox may be much older than previously thought, and how the Earth’s atmosphere rings like a bell. Nature News: Smallpox and other viruses plagued humans much earlier than suspectedPhysics World:

Top New Science Podcasts: Hiroshima Radiation Rules & Ocean Plastic Pollution

science-magazine-podcastsContributing Correspondent Dennis Normile talks about a long-term study involving the survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. Seventy-five years after the United States dropped nuclear bombs on the two cities in Japan, survivors are still helping scientists learn about the effects of radiation exposure. 

Also this week, Sarah talks with Winnie Lau, senior manager for preventing ocean plastics at Pew Charitable Trusts about her group’s paper about what it would take to seriously fight the flow of plastics into the environment. This week’s episode was produced with help from Podigy.

Top New Science Podcasts: First Humans In Americas, Covid-19 And Green Frogs

Nature PodcastWhen did people arrive in the Americas? New evidence stokes debate. New evidence may push back the date on human arrival to the Americas, and an examination of science’s flaws.

In this episode:

00:59 Ancient Americans

Two papers suggest that humans were present in the Americas thousands of years before many people have thought. We examine the evidence. Research Article: Ardelean et al.Research Article: Becerra-Valdivia and HighamNews and Views: Evidence grows that peopling of the Americas began more than 20,000 years ago

10:44 Coronapod

We discuss the latest results from vaccine trials around the world, and controversy in the US as COVID-19 data collection moves out of the CDC. News: Coronavirus vaccines leap through safety trials — but which will work is anybody’s guess

24:38 Research Highlights

How being green makes things easy for some frogs, and how waves will be affected by climate change. Research Highlight: How frogs became green — again, and again, and againResearch Highlight: Extreme Arctic waves set to hit new heights

27:11 How can science improve?

A new book highlights some of the flaws of how science is done. We caught up with the author to find out his thoughts on how science can be cleaned up. Books and Arts: Fraud, bias, negligence and hype in the lab — a rogues’ gallery

35:54 Briefing Chat

We take a look at some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time we discuss a puzzling new insight into the expansion of the Universe, and an update to Plan S that will allow open-access research to be published in any journal. Nature News: Mystery over Universe’s expansion deepens with fresh dataNature News: Open-access Plan S to allow publishing in any journal

Top New Science Podcasts: Reopening Schools Amid Covid-19, Oil Processing

science-magazine-podcastsContributing Correspondent Gretchen Vogel talks about what can be learned from schools around the world that have reopened during the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, few systematic studies have been done, but observations of outbreaks in schools in places such as France or Israel do offer a few lessons for countries looking to send children back to school soon. 

The United Kingdom and Germany have started studies of how the virus spreads in children and at school, but results are months away. In the meantime, Gretchen’s reporting suggests small class sizes, masks, and social distancing among adults at schools are particularly important measures.

Also this week, Sarah talks with Kiristie Thompson, a Ph.D. student in the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, about increasing the efficiency of petroleum processing. If all—or even some—petroleum processing goes heat free, it would mean big energy savings. Around the world, about 1% of all energy use goes to heating up petroleum in order to get useful things such as gas for cars or polymers for plastics. These days, this separation is done through distillation, heating, and separating by boiling point. Kirstie describes a heat-free way of getting this separation—by using a special membrane instead. Read a related Insight.

Top New Science Podcasts: Exploring Graphene’s Superconductivity, Covid-19 In The Air & Lungs

Nature PodcastProbing the superconducting properties of graphene and a bacteria that can use manganese to grow. If you sandwich two sheets of graphene together and twist one in just the right way, it can gain some superconducting properties. Now, physicists have added another material to this sandwich which stabilises that superconductivity, a result that may complicate physicists’ understanding of magic angles. 

08:22 Coronapod

With evidence mounting that SARS-CoV2 can spread in tiny aerosolized droplets, researchers have called on the WHO to change their guidance for disease prevention. News: Mounting evidence suggests coronavirus is airborne — but health advice has not caught up; Research article: Morwaska et al.; WHO: Transmission of SARS-CoV-2: implications for infection prevention precautions

19:27 Research Highlights

Repairing human lungs by hooking them up to pigs, and a new form of carbon. Research Highlight: How to use a live pig to revitalize a human lungResearch Highlight: This material is almost as hard as diamond — but as light as graphite

21:46 Manganese munchers

For decades it’s been thought that microbes that use manganese as an energy source must exist. Now, for the first time, researchers have found evidence that they do. Research Article: Yu and Leadbetter

29:12 Briefing Chat

We take a look at some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time we discuss DNA evidence of contact between ancient Native Americans and Polynesians, reintroduction of bison to the UK, and the first extinction of a modern marine fish. Nature News: Ancient voyage carried Native Americans’ DNA to remote Pacific islandsThe Guardian: Wild bison to return to UK for first time in 6,000 yearsScientific American: 

Top Science Podcasts: “What We Know About Antibodies & Covid-19”

With antibodies having implications for both our understanding of previous coronavirus infections and potential future immunity, Nicola Davis talks to Prof Eleanor Riley about how best to test for them and asks whether antibodies are the only thing we should be looking for.