A selection of three essential articles read aloud from the latest issue of The Economist. This week, how to think about the threat to American democracy, which economies have done best and worst during the pandemic (10:33) and whether video games really are addictive (17:34).
The lightning-fast spread of a seemingly milder coronavirus variant may represent a shift from pandemic to endemic; we ask how that would change global responses.
Concern about video-game addictiveness is as old as video games themselves—but the business models of modern gaming may be magnifying the problem. And newly publicised photographs shed light on Bangladesh’s brutal war for independence.
A video game provides players with insights into pandemic responses, giant pandas and our annual festive fun.
In this episode:
01:02 Balancing responses in a video game pandemic
In the strategy video-game Plague Inc: The Cure, players assume the role of an omnipotent global health agency trying to tackle outbreaks of increasingly nasty pathogens. We find out how the game was developed, and how it might help change public perception of pandemic responses.
10:02 “We three Spacecraft travel to Mars”
The first of our festive songs, we head back to July this year, and the launch of three separate space missions to the red planet. Scroll to the transcript section at the bottom of the page for the lyrics.
12:54 Research Highlights
Giant pandas roll in piles of poo to keep warm, and how different bread-baking styles have led to distinct lineages of baker’s yeast.
Research Highlight: Why pandas like to roll in piles of poo
Research Highlight: Sourdough starters give rise to a new line of yeast
15:17 The Nature Podcast Audio Charades Competition: Lockdown edition
In this year’s festive competition, our reporters try to describe some of the biggest science stories, using only homemade sound effects. Results are mixed, at best…
24:15 Nature’s 10
We hear about some of the people who made it on to this year’s Nature’s 10 list this year.
32:20 All I want for Christmas is vaccines
In our final festive song, we celebrate a huge scientific achievement, and one that’s offering a little hope for 2021. Scroll to the transcript section at the bottom of the page for the lyrics.
The new normal?
It is impossible to ignore the ongoing impact the Covid-19 pandemic is having on our lives. This month our infographic shows how some aspects of daily life have changed as a result. The widespread closure of schools, for example, is thought to have affected up to 1.38 billion learners as of late March. Meanwhile, the sudden shift to remote working is one such change expected to have long-lasting effects. Following the pandemic, 68% of Germans have stated they would like to work remotely more often.
Our designer Raphael Hammer has created an isometric-style illustration, with each topic area allocated its own quarter of the infographic. Each topic is then afforded its own principle colour and corresponding design details. The almost monochrome effect of the illustrations allows them to perfectly complement the data presented. Especially effective, are the subtle movements which bring the entire graphic to life.