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

On this week’s show: the latest social science replication study, the mechanisms behind human-induced earthquakes, and Judea Pearl and Dana Mackenzie’s The Book of Why: The New Science of Cause and Effect

 

A new project out of the Center for Open Science in Charlottesville, Virginia, found that of all the experimental social science papers published in Science and Nature from 2010–15, 62% successfully replicated, even when larger sample sizes were used. What does this say about peer review? Host Sarah Crespi talks with Staff Writer Kelly Servick about how this project stacks up against similar replication efforts, and whether we can achieve similar results by merely asking people to guess whether a study can be replicated.

 

Podcast producer Meagan Cantwell interviews Emily Brodsky of the University of California, Santa Cruz, about her research report examining why earthquakes occur as far as 10 kilometers from wastewater injection and fracking sites. Emily discusses why the well-established mechanism for human-induced earthquakes doesn’t explain this distance, and how these findings may influence where we place injection wells in the future.

 

In this month’s book podcast, Jen Golbeck interviews Judea Pearl and Dana McKenzie, authors of The Book of Why: The New Science of Cause and Effect. They propose that researchers have for too long shied away from claiming causality and provide a road map for bringing cause and effect back into science.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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About the Science Podcast

 

[Image: Jens Lambert, Shutterstock; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180831.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EDT

Small satellites—about the size of a briefcase—have been hitching rides on rockets to lower Earth orbit for decades. Now, because of their low cost and ease of launching, governments and private companies are looking to expand the range of these “sate-lites” deeper into space. Host Sarah Crespi talks with Deputy News Editor Eric Hand about the mods and missions in store for so-called CubeSats.

 

And our newest podcast producer Meagan Cantwell interviews Quentin Grafton of Australian National University in Canberra and Brad Udall of Colorado State University in Fort Collins about something called the “irrigation efficiency paradox.” As freshwater supplies dry up around the world, policymakers and farmers have been quick to try to make up the difference by improving irrigation, a notorious water waster. It turns out that both human behavior and the difficulty of water measurement are plaguing water conservation efforts in agriculture. For example, when farms find they are using less water, they tend to plant ever-more-water-intensive crops. Now, researchers are trying to get the message out about the behavioral component of this issue and tackle the measurement problem, using cheap remote-sensing technology, but with water scarcity looming ahead, we have to act soon.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

Listen to previous podcasts

 

About the Science Podcast

  

[Image: John A. Kelley, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Eric Hand; Meagan Cantwell

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180824.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EDT

Several thousand years ago the volcano under Santorini in Greece—known as Thera—erupted in a tremendous explosion, dusting the nearby Mediterranean civilizations of Crete and Egypt in a layer of white ash. This geological marker could be used to tie together many ancient historical events, but the estimated date could be off by a century. Contributing correspondent Lizzie Wade joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about a new study that used tree rings to calibrate radiocarbon readings—and get closer to pinning down a date. The findings also suggest that scientists may need to change their standard radiocarbon dating calibration curve.

 

Sarah also talks to Tony Belpaeme of Ghent University in Belgium and Plymouth University in the United Kingdom about his Science Robotics paper that explored whether people are susceptible to peer pressure from robots. Using a classic psychological measure of peer influence, the team found that kids from ages 7 to 9 occasionally gave in to social pressure from robot peers, but adults did not.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy, with help from Meagan Cantwell.

 

Listen to previous podcasts.

 

About the Science Podcast

  

[Image: Softbank Robotics; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Lizzie Wade, Meagan Cantwell

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180817.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EDT

We now live in the Meghalayan age—the last age of the Holocene epoch. Did you get the memo? A July 2018 decision by the International Commission on Stratigraphy, which is responsible for naming geological time periods, divided the Holocene into three ages: the Greenlandian, the Northgrippian, and the Meghalayan. The one we live in—the Meghalayan age (pronounced “mega-lion”)—is pegged to a global drought thought to have happened some 4200 years ago. But many critics question the timing of this latest age and the global expanse of the drought. Staff writer Paul Voosen talks with host Sarah Crespi about the evidence for and against the global drought—and what it means if it’s wrong.

 

Sarah also talks staff writer Kelly Servick about her feature story on what happens when biocontrol goes out of control. Here’s the setup: U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers wanted to know if brown marmorated stink bugs that have invaded the United States could be controlled—aka killed—by importing their natural predators, samurai wasps, from Asia. But before they could find out, the wasps showed up anyway. Kelly discusses how using one species to combat another can go wrong—or right—and what happens when the situation outruns regulators.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

Listen to previous podcasts.

  

[Image: Stink bug/Flickr/Melissa McMasters; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Paul Voosen; Kelly Servick

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180810.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EDT

Yes, humans are the only species with language, but how did we acquire it [linkTK]? New research suggests our linguistic prowess might arise from the same process that brought domesticated dogs big eyes and bonobos the power to read others’ intent. Online News Editor Catherine Matacic joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about how humans might have self-domesticated themselves, leading to physical and behavioral changes that gave us a “language-ready” brain.

 

Sarah also talks with Micah Edelson of the University of Zurich in Switzerland about his group’s research into the role that “responsibility aversion”—the reluctance to make decisions for a group—might play when people decide to lead or defer in a group setting. In their experiments, the team found that some people adjusted how much risk they would take on, depending on whether they were deciding for themselves alone or for the entire group. The ones who didn’t—those who stuck to the same plan whether others were involved or not—tended to score higher on standardized tests of leadership and have held higher military rank.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

Listen to previous podcasts.

  

[Image: Scaly breasted munia/Ravi Vaidyanathan; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Catherine Matacic

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180803.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EDT

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