Thu, 4 October 2018
Odd new particles may be tunneling through the planet, and how the flu operates differently in big and small towns
Hoping to spot subatomic particles called neutrinos smashing into Earth, the balloon-borne Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA) detector has circled the South Pole four times. ANITA has yet to detect those particles, but it has twice seen oddball radio signals that could be evidence of something even weirder: some heavier particle unknown to physicists' standard model, burrowing up through Earth. Science writer Adrian Cho joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss the possibility that this reading could lead to a big change in physics.
Next, host Meagan Cantwell asks researcher Ben Dalziel what makes a bad—or good—flu year. Traditionally, research has focused on two factors: climate, which impacts how long the virus stays active after a sneeze or cough, and changes in the virus itself, which can influence its infectiousness. But these factors don’t explain every pattern. Dalziel, a population biologist in the Departments of Integrative Biology and Mathematics at Oregon State University in Corvallis, explains how humidity and community size shape the way influenza spreads.
This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.
[Image: Stuart Rankin/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]
Authors: Sarah Crespi; Meagan Cantwell; Adrian Cho