Science Magazine Podcast
Weekly podcasts from Science Magazine, the world's leading journal of original scientific research, global news, and commentary.

Nigeria, Russia, and Florida seem like an odd set, but they all have one thing in common: growing caseloads of HIV. Science Staff Writer Jon Cohen joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about this week’s big read on how the fight against HIV/AIDS is evolving in these diverse locations.

 

Sarah also talks with Armin Raznahan of the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland, about his group’s work measuring which parts of the human brain are bigger in bigger brains. Adult human brains can vary as much as 2 times in size—and until now this this expansion was thought to be evenly distributed. However, the team found that highly integrative regions are overrepresented in bigger brains, while regions related to processing incoming sensory information such as sight and sound tend to be underrepresented. 

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Misha Friedman; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Jon Cohen

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180615.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EDT

What book are you taking to the beach or the field this summer? Science’s books editor Valerie Thompson and host Sarah Crespi discuss a selection of science books that will have you catching comets and swimming with the fishes.

 

Sarah also talks with Mira Moufarrej of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, about her team’s work on a new blood test that analyzes RNA from maternal blood to determine the gestational age of a fetus. This new approach may also help predict the risk of preterm birth.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image:  William Warby/Flickr;Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Valerie Thompson

 

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180608.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EDT

Astronomers have been able to detect supermassive black holes and teeny-weeny black holes but the midsize ones have been elusive. Now, researchers have scanned through archives looking for middle-size galaxies and found [link TK]traces of these missing middlers. Host Sarah Crespi and Staff Writer Daniel Clery discuss why they were so hard to find in the first place, and what it means for our understanding of black hole formation.

 

Farming animals and plants for human consumption is a massive operation with a big effect on the planet. A new research project that calculated the environmental impact of global food production shows highly variable results for different foods—and for the same foods grown in different locations. Sarah talks with one of the researchers—Joseph Poore of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom—about how understanding this diversity can help cut down food production’s environmental footprint and help consumers make better choices.

 

 

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Miltos Gikas/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Daniel Clery

 

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180601.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EDT

DNA fingerprinting has been used to link people to crimes for decades, by matching DNA from a crime scene to DNA extracted from a suspect. Now, investigators are using other parts of the genome—such as markers for hair and eye color—to help rule people in and out as suspects. Staff Writer Gretchen Vogel talks with Sarah Crespi about whether science supports this approach and how different countries are dealing with this new type of evidence.

 

Sarah also talks with Jill Fernandes of the University of Queensland in Australia about her Science Advances paper on a light-based technique for detecting Zika in mosquitos. Instead of grinding up the bug and extracting Zika DNA, her group shines near-infrared light through the body. Mosquitoes carrying Zika transmit this light differently than uninfected ones. If it’s successful in larger trials, this technique could make large-scale surveillance of infected mosquitoes quicker and less expensive.  

 

In our monthly books segment, Jen Golbeck talks with author Sarah-Jayne Blakemore about her new work: Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain. You can check out more book reviews and share your thoughts on the Books et al. blog

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image:  Zika virus (red), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Gretchen Vogel; Jen Golbeck 

 

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180525.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EDT

Two thousand years ago, ancient Romans were pumping lead into the air as they smelted ores to make the silvery coin of the realm. Online news editor David Grimm talks to Sarah Crespi about how the pollution of ice in Greenland from this process provides a detailed 1900-year record of Roman history.

 

This week is also resistance week at Science—where researchers explore the global challenges of antibiotic resistance, pesticide resistance, herbicide resistance, and fungicide resistance. Sarah talks with Sarah Gurr of the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom about her group’s work on the spread of antifungal resistance and what it means for crops and in the clinic.

 

And in a bonus books segment, staff writer Jennifer Couzin-Frankel talks about medicine and fraud in her review of Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou.

 

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Wheat rust/Oregon State University;Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; David Grimm; Jennifer Couzin-Frankel

 

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180518.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EDT

Who were the first horse-tamers? Online news editor Catherine Matacic talks to Sarah Crespi about a new study that brings genomics to bear on the question.

 

The hunt for the original equine domesticators has focused on Bronze Age people living on the Eurasian Steppe. Now, ancient DNA analysis bolsters the idea that a small group of hunter gatherers, called the Botai, were likely the first to harness horses, not the famous Yamnaya pastoralists, often thought to be the originators of the Indo-European language family.

 

Sarah also talks with news intern Katie Langin about her feature story on a single salmon gene that may separate spring and fall-run salmon. Conservationists, regulators, and citizens are fiercely debating the role such a small bit of DNA plays in defining distinct populations. Are the spring and fall runs different enough to both warrant protection?

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image:  Jessica Piispanen/USFWS;Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Catherine Matacic; Katie Langin

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180511.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EDT

To study the biological differences brought on by space travel, NASA sent one twin into space and kept another on Earth in 2015. Now, researchers from that project are trying to replicate that work planet-side to see if the differences in gene expression were due to extreme stress or were specific to being in space. Sarah Crespi talks with Online News Editor Catherine Matacic about a “control” study using what might be a comparably stressful experience here on Earth: climbing Mount Everest.

 

Catherine also shares a recent study that confirmed what one reddit user posted 5 years ago: A single path stretching from southern Pakistan to northeastern Russia will take you on the longest straight-line journey on Earth, via the ocean.

 

Finally, Sarah talks with Roland Kröger of the University of York   in the United Kingdom about his group’s study published this week in Science. Using a combination of techniques usually reserved for materials science, the group explored the nanoscale arrangement of mineral in bone, looking for an explanation of the tissue’s contradictory combination of toughness and hardness.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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  [Image:  Human bone (20X) by Berkshire Community College Bioscience Image Library;Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Catherine Matacic

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180504.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EDT

Researchers have found new clues to how the “talking drums” of one Amazonian tribe convey their messages. Sarah Crespi talks with Online News Editor Catherine Matacic about the role of tone and rhythm in this form of communication.

 

Getting poked with a needle will probably get you moving. Apparently, it also gets charges moving in certain semiconductive materials. Sarah interviews Marin Alexe of the University of Warwick about this newfound flexo-photovoltaic effect. Alexe’s group found that prodding or denting certain semiconductors with tiny needles causes them to suddenly produce current in response to light. That discovery could enhance the efficiency of current of solar cell technologies.

 

Finally, in our books segment, Jen Golbeck interviews Lucy Cooke about her new book The Truth About Animals: Stoned Sloths, Lovelorn Hippos, and Other Tales from the Wild Side of Wildlife.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

Listen to previous podcasts.

  

[Image: Adam Levine/Flickr;Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Catherine Matacic

 

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180427.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EDT

Armed with new data, archaeologists are revealing that [linkTK]mind-altering drugs were present at the dawn of the first complex societies some 5000 years ago in the ancient Middle East. Contributing writer Andrew Lawler joins Sarah Crespi to discuss the evidence for these drugs and how they might have impacted early societies and beliefs.

 

Sarah also interviews Sarah Hobbie of the University of Minnesota about the fate of plants under climate change. Will all that extra carbon dioxide in the air be good for certain types of flora? A 20-year long study published this week in Science suggests theoretical predictions have been off the mark. 

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image:  Public domain Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Andrew Lawler

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180420.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EDT

 

Geneticists and anthropologists studying historical records and modern-day genomes are finding traces of previously unknown migrants to Latin America in the 16th and 17th centuries, when Asians, Africans, and Europeans first met indigenous Latin Americans. Sarah Crespi talks with contributing correspondent Lizzie Wade about what she learned on the topic at the American Association of Physical Anthropologists’ annual meeting in Austin.

 

Sarah also interviews Kang-Keun Ni about her research using optical tweezers to bring two atoms—one cesium and one sodium—together into a single molecule. Such precise control of molecule formation is allowing new observations of these basic processes, and is opening the door to creating new molecules for quantum computing.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

Listen to previous podcasts.

  

[Image:  Juan Fernando Ibarra; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Lizzie Wade

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180413.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EDT