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

About one-third of people with epilepsy are treatment resistant. Up until now, epilepsy treatments have focused on taming seizures rather than the source of the disease and for good reason—so many roads lead to epilepsy: traumatic brain injury, extreme fever and infection, and genetic disorders, to name a few. Staff Writer Jennifer Couzin-Frankel talks with host Sarah Crespi about researchers that are turning back the pages on epilepsy, trying to get to the beginning of the story where new treatments might work.

 

And Sarah also talks with Torsten Neurbert at the Technical University of Denmark’s National Space Institute in Kongens Lyngby about capturing high-altitude “transient luminous events” from the International Space Station (ISS). These lightning-induced bursts of light, color, and occasionally gamma rays were first reported in the 1990s but had only been recorded from the ground or aircraft. With new measurements from the ISS come new insights into the anatomy of lightning.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Gemini Observatory; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

Authors: Sarah Crespi; Jennifer Couzin-Frankel

Direct download: SciencePodcast_191213.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

After their life as research subjects, what happens to lab monkeys? Some are euthanized to complete the research, others switch to new research projects, and some retire from lab life. Should they retire in place—in the same lab under the care of the same custodians—or should they be sent to retirement home–like sanctuaries? Online News Editor David Grimm joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss recently penned legislation that [pushes for monkey retirements-linkTK] and a new collaboration between universities and sanctuaries to create a retirement pipeline for these primates.

 

And Sarah also talks with Dante Lauretta, principal investigator for NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) and a professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson, about the latest news from the asteroid Bennu. Within 1 week of beginning its orbit of the asteroid, OSIRIS-REx was able to send back surprising images of the asteroid ejecting material. It’s extremely rocky surface also took researchers by surprise and forced a recalculation of the sample return portion of the craft’s mission.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

Authors: Sarah Crespi; David Grimm

Direct download: SciencePodcast_191206.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

The National Institutes of Health’s largest loan repayment program was conceived to help scientists pay off school debts without relying on industry funding. But a close examination of the program by investigative correspondent Charles Piller has revealed that many participants are taking money from the government to repay their loans, while at the same time taking payments from pharmaceutical companies. Piller joins Host Sarah Crespi to talk about the steps he took to uncover this double dipping and why ethicists say this a conflict of interest.

 

Sarah also talks Nate Lindsey, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Berkeley, about turning a 50-meter undersea fiber optic cable designed to move data into a sensor for activity in the ocean and the land underneath. During a 4-day test in Monterey Bay, California, the cable detected earthquakes, faults, waves, and even ocean-going storms.

 

For this month’s books segment, Kiki Sandford talks with Dan Hooper about his book At the Edge of Time: Exploring the Mysteries of Our Universe’s First Seconds.

 

You can find more books segments on the Books et al. blog.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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

 

Authors: Sarah Crespi; Charles Pillar

Direct download: Science_Podcast_191129.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

You may have seen the aftermath of a landslide, driving along a twisty mountain road—a scattering of rocks and scree impinging on the pavement. And up until now, that’s pretty much how scientists have tracked landslides—roadside observations and spotty satellite images. Now, researchers are hoping to track landslides systematically by instrumenting an entire national park in Taiwan. The park is riddled with landslides—so much so that visitors wear helmets. Host Sarah Crespi talks with one of those visitors—freelance science journalist Katherine Kornei—about what we can learn from landslides.

 

In a second rocking segment, Sarah also talks with Manvir Singh about the universality of music. His team asked the big questions in a Science paper out this week: Do all societies make music? What are the common elements that can be picked out from songs worldwide? Sarah and Manvir listen to songs and talk about what love ballads and lullabies have in common, regardless of their culture of origin.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Martin Lewinson/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Katherine Kornei

Direct download: 191122_SciencePodcast.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

The Polarstern research vessel will spend 1 year locked in an Arctic ice floe. Aboard the ship and on the nearby ice, researchers will take measurements of the ice, air, water, and more in an effort to understand this pristine place. Science journalist Shannon Hall joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about her time aboard the Polarstern and how difficult these measurements are, when the researchers’ temporary Arctic home is the noisiest, smokiest, brightest thing around.

 

After that icy start, Sarah talks also with Tanmoy Samanta, a postdoctoral researcher at Peking University in Beijing, about the source of the extreme temperature of the Sun’s corona, which can be up to 1 million K hotter than the surface of the Sun. His team’s careful measurements of spicules—small, plentiful, short-lived spikes of plasma that constantly ruffle the Sun’s surface—and the magnetic networks that seem to generate these spikes, suggest a solution to the long-standing problem of how spicules arise and, at the same time, their likely role in the heating of the corona.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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Direct download: SciencePodcast_191115.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Most historical accounts of slavery were written by colonists and planters. Researchers are now using the tools of archaeology to learn more about the day-to-day lives of enslaved Africans—how they survived the conditions of slavery, how they participated in local economies, and how they maintained their own agency. Host Sarah Crespi talks with Contributing Correspondent Lizzie Wade about a Caribbean archaeology project based on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands and launched by the founders of the Society for Black Archaeologists that aims to unearth these details. 

 

Sarah also talks with Jonathan Schulz, a professor in the Department of Economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, about a role for the medieval Roman Catholic Church in so-called WEIRD psychology—western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic. The bulk of psychology experiments have used participants that could be described as WEIRD, and according to many psychological measures, WEIRD subjects tend to have some extreme traits, like a stronger tendency toward individuality and more friendliness with strangers. Schulz and colleagues used historical maps and measures of kinship structure to tie these traits to strict marriage rules enforced by the medieval Catholic Church in Western Europe. Read a related commentary.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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Direct download: SciencePodcast_191108.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Measles is a dangerous infection that can kill. As many as 100,000 people die from the disease each year. For those who survive infection, the virus leaves a lasting mark—it appears to wipe out the immune system’s memory. News Intern Eva Fredrick joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about a pair of studies that looked at how this happens in children’s immune systems.

 

Read the related studies in Science and Science Immunology.

 

In our second segment this week, Sarah talks with Todd Thompson, of Ohio State University in Columbus, about his effort to find a small black hole in a binary pair with a red giant star. Usually black holes are detected because they are accruing matter and as the matter interacts with the black hole, x-rays are released. Without this flashy signal, black hole detection gets much harder. Astronomers must look for the gravitational influence of the black holes on nearby stars—which is easier to spot when the black hole is massive. Thompson talks with Sarah about a new approach to finding small, noninteracting black holes.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Eva Frederick

Direct download: SciencePodcast_191101.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Earthworms are easy … to find. But despite their prevalence and importance to ecosystems around the world, there hasn’t been a comprehensive survey of earthworm diversity or population size. This week in Science, Helen Philips, a postdoctoral fellow at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research and the Institute of Biology at Leipzig University, and colleagues published the results of their worldwide earthworm study, composed of data sets from many worm researchers around the globe. Host Sarah Crespi gets the lowdown from Philips on collaborating with worm researchers, and links between worm populations and climate.

 Sarah also talks with Ziad Obermeyer, a professor in the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley, about dissecting out bias in an algorithm used by health care systems in the United States to recommend patients for additional health services. With unusual access to a proprietary algorithm, inputs, and outputs, Obermeyer and his colleagues found that the low amount of health care dollars spent on black patients in the past caused the algorithm to underestimate their risk for poor health in the future. Obermeyer and Sarah discuss how this happened and remedies that are already in progress.

Finally, in the monthly books segment, books host Kiki Sanford interviews author Alice Gorman about her book Dr. Space Junk vs The Universe: Archaeology and the Future. Listen to more book segments on the Science books blog: Books, et al.        

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi;

Direct download: SciencePodcast_191025.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 2:00pm EST

We don’t know where consciousness comes from. And we don’t know whether animals have it, or whether we can detect it in patients in comas. Do neuroscientists even know where to look? A new competition aims to [narrow down the bewildering number of theories of consciousness-link TK] and get closer to finding its biological signs by pitting different theories against each other in experimental settings. Freelance journalist Sara Reardon talks with host Sarah Crespi about the how the competition will work.

In our second segment, we talk about how we think about children. For thousands of years, adults have complained about their lack of respect, intelligence, and tendency to distraction, compared with previous generations. A new study out this week in Science Advances suggests our own biased childhood memories might be at fault. Sarah Crespi talks with John Protzko of the University of California, Santa Barbara, about how terrible people thought kids were in 3800 B.C.E. and whether understanding those biases might change how people view Generation Z today.

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Andrea Kirkby/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Sara Reardon

Direct download: SciencePodcast_191018.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Have you ever tried to scrub off the dark, tarlike residue on a grill? That tough stuff is made up of polymers—basically just byproducts of cooking—and it is so persistent that researchers have found similar molecules that have survived hundreds of millions of years. And these aren't from cook fires. They are actually the byproducts of death and fossilization. Host Sarah Crespi talks with Contributing Correspondent Gretchen Vogel about how these molecules can be found on the surface of certain fossils and used as fingerprints for the proteins that once dwelled in dinos.

And Sarah talks with Zunfeng Liu, a professor at Nankai University in Tianjin, China, about a new cooling technology based on a 100- -year-old observation that a stretched rubber band is warm and a relaxed one is cool. It’s going to be hard to beat the 60% efficiency of compression-based refrigerators and air conditioning units, but Zunfeng and colleagues aim to try, with twists and coils that can cool water by 7°C when relaxed.

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Twila Cheeseborough/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Gretchen Vogel

Direct download: SciencePodcast_191011.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Host Sarah Crespi talks with undergraduate student Micheal Munson from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, about a smartphone app that scans photos in the phone’s library for eye disease in kids

And Sarah talks with Todd Roberts of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Houston, Texas, about incepting memories into zebra finches to study how they learn their songs. Using a technique called optogenetics—in which specific neurons can be controlled by pulses of light—the researchers introduced false song memories by turning on neurons in different patterns, with longer or shorter note durations than typical zebra finch songs.

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Jim Brendon/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi;

Direct download: SciencePodcast_20191004.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

On this week’s show, senior news correspondent Jeffrey Mervis talks with host Sarah Crespi about a stalled Facebook plan to release user data to social scientists who want to study the site’s role in elections.

Sarah also talks with Jennifer Gruhn, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Copenhagen Center for Chromosome Stability, about counting chromosomes in human egg cells. It turns out that cell division errors that cause too many or too few chromosomes to remain in the egg may shape human fertility over our reproductive lives.

Finally, in this month’s book segment, Kiki Sanford talks with Daniel Navon about his book Mobilizing Mutations: Human Genetics in the Age of Patient Advocacy. Visit the books blog for more author interviews: Books et al.

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Jennifer Gruhn; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190927.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

On this week’s show, science journalist Josh Sokol talks about a global cooling event sparked by space dust that lead to a [huge shift in animal and plant diversity 466 million years ago-linkTK.] (Read the related research article in Science Advances.)

And I talk with Kenneth Rosenberg, an applied conservation scientist at Cornell University, about steep declines in bird abundance in the United States and Canada. His team estimates about 3 billion birds have gone missing since the 1970s.

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; Josh Sokol

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190920.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

In La Rinconada, Peru, a town 5100 meters up in the Peruvian Andes, residents get by breathing air with 50% less oxygen than at sea level. International News Editor Martin Enserink [visited the site with researchers studying chronic mountain sickness-linkTK]—when the body makes excess red blood cells in an effort to cope with oxygen deprivation—in these extreme conditions. Martin talks with host Sarah Crespi about how understanding why this illness occurs in some people and not others could help the residents of La Rinconada and the 140 million people worldwide living above 2500 meters. Read all the research and news in the mountain special issue.

Sarah also talks with Annika Stephanie Reinhold about her work at the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience in Berlin training rats to play hide and seek. Surprisingly, rats learned the game easily and were even able to switch roles—sometimes playing as the seeker, other times the hider. Annika talks with Sarah about why studying play behavior in animals is important for understanding the connections between play and learning in both rats and humans.

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Tambako The Jaguar/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

Authors: Sarah Crespi; Martin Enserink

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190913.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

This week’s show starts with Contributing Correspondent Lizzie Wade, who spent 12 days with archaeologists [searching for a lost Maya city-linkTK] in the Chiapas wilderness in Mexico. She talks with host Sarah Crespi about how you lose a city—and how you might go about finding one.

And Sarah talks with Christophe Coupé, an associate professor in the department of linguistics at the University of Hong Kong in China, about the information density of different languages. His work, published this week in Science Advances, suggests very different languages—from Chinese to Japanese to English and French—are all equally efficient at conveying information.

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Lizzie Wade/Science; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Lizzie Wade

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190906.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Micro-organisms live inside everything from the human gut to coral—but where do they come from? Host Meagan Cantwell talks to Staff Writer Elizabeth Pennisi about the first comprehensive survey of microbes in Hawaii’s Waimea Valley, which revealed that plants and animals get their unique microbiomes from organisms below them in the food chain or the wider environment.

 

Going global, Meagan then speaks with Erle Ellis, professor of geography and environmental science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, about a project that aggregated the expertise of more than 250 archaeologists to map human land use over the past 10,000 years. This detailed map will help fine-tune climate models.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Chris Couderc/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook] 

  

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Authors: Meagan Cantwell; Elizabeth Pennisi

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190830.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Changing the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline from 1-800-273- 8255 (TALK) to a three-digit number could save lives—especially when coupled with other strategies. Host Meagan Cantwell talks to Greg Miller, a science journalist based in Portland, Oregon, about three effective methods to prevent suicides—crisis hotlines, standardizing mental health care, and restricting lethal means. Greg’s feature is part of a larger package in Science exploring paths out of darkness.

 

With more solutions this week, host Sarah Crespi speaks with A. R. Siders, a social scientist at the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware in Newark, about her policy forum on the need for “managed climate retreat”—strategically moving people and property away from high-risk flood and fire zones. Integrating relocation into a larger strategy could maximize its benefits, supporting equality and economic development along the way.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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Authors: Meagan Cantwell; Greg Miller; Sarah Crespi

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190823.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Researchers, regulators, and the chicken industry are all united in their search for a way to make eggs more ethical by stopping culling—the killing of male chicks born to laying hens. Contributing Correspondent Gretchen Vogel talks with host Sarah Crespi about the many approaches being tried to [determine the sex of chicken embryos before they hatch-linkTK], from robots with lasers, to MRIs, to AI, to gene editing with CRISPR.

 

Also this week, Sarah talks with Melanie Bergmann, a marine biologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, Germany, about finding microplastic particles in snow all the way up at the Fram Strait, between Greenland and the Svalbarg archipelago in Norway.

 

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[Image: fruchtzwerg’s world/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Gretchen Vogel

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190816.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

In recent months, telecommunications companies in the United States have purchased a new part of the spectrum for use in 5G cellphone networks. Weather forecasters are concerned that these powerful signals could swamp out weaker signals from water vapor—which are in a nearby band and important for weather prediction. Freelance science writer Gabriel Popkin joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about the possible impact of cellphone signals on weather forecasting and some suggested regulations.

 

In other weather news this week, Sarah talks with Pengfei Yu, a professor at Jinan University in Guangzhou, China, about his group’s work using a huge smoke plume from the 2017 wildfires in western Canada as a model for smoke from nuclear bombs. They found the wildfire smoke lofted itself 23 kilometers into the stratosphere, spread across the Northern Hemisphere, and took 8 months to dissipate, which line up with models of nuclear winter and suggests these fires can help predict the results of a nuclear war.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Gabriel Popkin

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190809.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

After two mysterious earthquake swarms occurred under the Sea of Galilee, researchers found a relationship between these small quakes and the excessive extraction of groundwater. Science journalist Michael Price talks with host Sarah Crespi about making this connection and what it means for water-deprived fault areas like the Sea of Galilee and the state of California.

 

Also this week, Sarah talks with graduate student Adrian Baez-Ortega from the University of Cambridge’s Transmissible Cancer Group about the genome of a canine venereal cancer that has been leaping from dog to dog for about 8000 years. By comparing the genomes of this cancer from dogs around the globe, the researchers were able to learn more about its origins and spread around the world. They also discuss how such a long-lived cancer might help them better understand and treat human cancers.

 

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[Image: Carl Campbell/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Michael Price

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190802.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Imagine having a rat clinging to your back, sucking out your fat stores. That’s similar to what infested bees endure when the Varroa destructor mite comes calling. Some bees fight back, wiggling, scratching, and biting until the mites depart for friendlier backs. Now, researchers, professional beekeepers, and hobbyists are working on ways to breed into bees these mite-defeating behaviors to rid them of these damaging pests. Host Sarah Crespi and Staff Writer Erik Stokstad discuss the tactics of, and the hurdles to, pesticide-free mite control.

 

Also this week, Sarah talks to Philip Kragel of the Institute of Cognitive Science at the University of Colorado in Boulder about training an AI on emotionally charged images. The ultimate aim of this research: to understand how the human visual system is involved in processing emotion.

 

And in books, Kate Eichorn, author of The End of Forgetting: Growing Up with Social Media, joins books host Kiki Sanford to talk about how the monetization of digital information has led to the ease of social media sharing and posting for kids and adults.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Steve Baker/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Erik Stokstad; Kiki Sanford

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190726.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Can we inherit trauma from our ancestors? Studies of behavior and biomarkers have suggested the stress of harsh conditions or family separations can be passed down, even beyond one’s children. Journalist Andrew Curry joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss a possible mechanism for this mode of inheritance and mouse studies that suggest possible ways to reverse the effects.

 

Spiky, pulsating ferrofluids are perpetual YouTube stars. The secret to these dark liquid dances is the manipulation of magnetic nanoparticles in the liquid by external magnets. But when those outside forces are removed, the dance ends. Now, researchers writing in Science have created permanently magnetic fluids that respond to other magnets, electricity, and pH by changing shape, moving, and—yes—probably even dancing. Sarah Crespi talks to Thomas Russell of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst about the about the applications of these squishy, responsive magnets.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: X. Liu et al., Science 2019; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Andrew Curry

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190719.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

You can learn a lot about ocean health from seabirds. For example, breeding failures among certain birds have been linked to the later collapse of some fisheries. Enriqueta Velarde of the Institute of Marine Sciences and Fisheries at the University of Veracruz in Mexico, joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about what these long-lived fliers can tell us about the ocean and its inhabitants.

 

Also this week, Sarah and Cathal O’Madagain of the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris discuss pointing—a universal human gesture common to almost all children before age 1. They discuss why pointing matters, and how this simple gesture may underlie humans’ amazing ability to collaborate and coordinate.  

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: C. O'Madagain et al., Science Advances 2019; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; 

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190712.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Chemists have long known how to convert carbon dioxide into fuels—but up until now, such processes have been too expensive for commercial use. Staff Writer Robert Service talks with host Sarah Crespi about using new filters and catalysts to close the gap between air-derived and fossil-derived gasoline.

 Also this week, host Sarah Crespi talks with Nitish Padmanaban of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, about replacing bifocals with “autofocals.” These auto-focusing glasses track your eye position and measure the distance to the visual target before adjusting the thickness of their liquid lenses. The prototype glasses have an onboard camera and batteries that make them particularly bulky; however, they still outperformed progressive lenses in tests of focus speed and acuity.

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

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 About the Science Podcast

 

[Image: N. Padmanaban et al., Science Advances 2019; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Robert Service

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190705.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Researchers have been making animal embryos from two different species, so-called “chimeras,” for years, by introducing stem cells from one species into a very early embryo of another species. The ultimate goal is to coax the foreign cells into forming an organ for transplantation. But questions abound: Can evolutionarily distant animals, like pigs and humans, be mixed together to produce such organs? Or could species closely related to us, like chimps and marques, stand in for tests with human cells? Staff writer Kelly Servick joins host Sarah Crespi to [discuss the research, the regulations, and the growing ethical debate-linkTK].

 

Also this week, Sarah talks with Yossi Yovel of the School of Zoology and the Sagol School of Neuroscience at Tel Aviv University about his work on sensory integration in bats. Writing in Science Advances, he and his colleagues show through several clever experiments when bats switch between echolocation and vision. Yossi and Sarah discuss how these tradeoffs in bats can inform larger questions about our own perception.   

 

For our monthly books segment, Science books editor Valerie Thompson talks with Lucy Jones of the Seismological Laboratory of Caltech about a song she created, based on 130 years of temperature data, for an instrument called the “viola de gamba.” Read more on the Books et al. blog.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: The Legend Kay/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Kelly Servick

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190628.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

How can you resist puppy dog eyes? This sweet, soulful look might very well have been bred into canines by their intended victims—humans. Online News Editor David Grimm talks with host Meagan Cantwell about a new study on the evolution of this endearing facial maneuver. David also talks about what diseased dog spines can tell us about early domestication—were these marks of hard work or a gentler old age for our doggy domestics?

 

Also this week, host Sarah Crespi talks with Michel Marechal of the University of Zurich in Switzerland about honesty around the globe. By tracking about 17,000 wallets left at hotels, post offices, and banks, his team found that we humans are a lot more honest than either economic models or our own intuitions give us credit for.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Molly Marshall/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi;  Meagan Cantwell; David Grimm

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190621.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

We’ve all seen images or animations of hurricanes that color code the wind speeds inside the whirling mass—but it turns out we can do a better job measuring these winds and, as a result, better predict the path of the storm. Staff Writer Paul Voosen talks with host Sarah Crespi about how a microsatellite-based project for measuring hurricane wind speeds is showing signs of success—despite unexpected obstacles from the U.S. military’s tweaking of GPS signals.   

 

Also this week, Sarah talks with graduate student Samantha Trumbo, a Ph.D. candidate in planetary science at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, about spotting chloride salts on the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa. What can these salts on the surface tell us about the oceans that lie beneath Europa’s icy crust?

 

 This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Paul Voosen

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190614.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Cheap and easy to make, perovskite minerals have become the wonder material of solar energy. Now, scientists are turning from using perovskites to capture light to using them to emit it. Staff Writer Robert Service joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about using these minerals in all kinds of LEDs, from cellphones to flat screen TVs.

 

Read the related paper in Science Advances.

 

Also this week, Sarah talks with Caitlin Thurber, a biologist at Nassau Community College in Garden City, New York, about a hard limit on human endurance. Her group used data from transcontinental racers—who ran 957 kilometers over the course of 20 weeks—and found that after about 100 days, their metabolism settled in at about 2.5 times the baseline rate, suggesting a hard limit on human endurance at long timescales. Earlier studies based on the 23-day Tour de France found much higher levels of energy expenditure, in the four- to five- times-baseline range.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: N. Zhou et al., Science Advances 2019; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Robert Service

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190607.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Up until this year, most U.S. graduate programs in the sciences required the General Record Examination from applicants. But concerns about what the test scores actually say about potential students and the worry that the cost is a barrier to many have led to a [rapid and dramatic reduction in the number of programs requiring the test-linkTK]. Science Staff Writer Katie Langin joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about this trend and how it differs across disciplines.

 

Also this week, Sarah talks with DeepMind’s Max Jaderberg in London about training artificial agents to play a video game version of capture the flag. The agents played approximately 4 years’ worth of Quake III Arena and came out better than even expert human players at both cooperating and collaborating, even when their computer-quick reflexes were hampered.

 

And in this month’s book segment, new host Kiki Sanford interviews Marcus Du Satoy about his book The Creativity Code: Art and Innovation in the Age of AI.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: DeepMind; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Katie Langin; Kiki Sanford

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190531.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was built with one big goal in mind: to find the Higgs boson. It did just that in 2012. But the question on many physicists’ minds about the LHC is, “What have you done for me lately?” Host Sarah Crespi talks with Staff Writer Adrian Cho about proposals [to look at the showers of particles created by its proton collisions in new ways-linkTK]—from changing which events are recorded, to changing how the data are analyzed, even building more detectors outside of the LHC proper—all in the hopes that strange, longer-lived particles are being generated but missed by the current set up.

 

Also this week, Sarah talks with Tian Li of the University of Maryland in College Park about a modified wood designed to passively cool buildings. Starting from its humble roots in the forest, the wood is given a makeover: First it is bleached white to eliminate pigments that absorb light. Next it is hot pressed, which adds strength and durability. Most importantly, these processes allow the wood to emit in the middle-infrared range, so that when facing the sky, heat passes through the wood out to the giant heat sink of outer space.

 This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

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 [Image: Cern; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Adrian Cho

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190524.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

The groundwater of Rockford, Michigan, is contaminated by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, chemicals found in everything from nonstick pans to dental floss to—in the case of Rockford—waterproofing agents from a shoe factory that shut down in 2009. Science journalist Sara Talpos talks with host Meagan Cantwell about how locals found the potentially health-harming chemicals in their water[linkTK], and how contamination from nonstick chemicals isn’t limited to Michigan.

 

Also this week, host Sarah Crespi talks with Shyamnath Gollakota of the University of Washington in Seattle about his work diagnosing ear infections with smartphones. With the right app and a small paper cone, it turns out that your phone can listen for excess fluid in the ear by bouncing quiet clicks from the speaker off the eardrum. Clinical testing shows the setup is simple to use and can help parents and doctors check children for this common infection.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Dennis Wise/University of Washington; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Meagan Cantwell; Sara Talpos

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190517.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Dog cognition and social behavior have hogged the scientific limelight for years—showing in study after study that canines have social skills essential to their relationships with people. Cats, not so much. These often-fractious felines tend to balk at strange situations—be they laboratories, MRI machines, or even a slightly noisy fan. Online News Editor David Grimm joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss several brave research labs that have started work with cats on their terms in order to show they have social smarts comparable to dogs. So far, the results suggest that despite their different ancestors and paths to domestication, cats and dogs have a lot more in common then we previously thought.

 

See a special blog post on capturing cats on camera from the photo team[link TK].

 

Also this week, host Meagan Cantwell speaks with Greg Erhardt, assistant professor of civil engineering at University of Kentucky about the effect of ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lift on traffic in San Francisco, California. His group’s work showed that when comparing 2010 and 2016 traffic, these services contributed significantly to increases in congestion in a large growing city like San Francisco, but questions still remain about how much can be generalized to other cities or lower density areas. 

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

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[Image: Thomas Hawk/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Meagan Cantwell; David Grimm

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190510.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Humans have sought new materials to make elusive blue pigments for millennia—with mixed success. Today, scientists are tackling this blue-hued problem from many different angles. Host Sarah Crespi talks with contributing correspondent Kai Kupferschmidt about how scientists are looking to algae, bacteria, flowers—even minerals from deep under Earth’s crust—in the age-old quest for the rarest of pigments.

 

Also this week, host Meagan Cantwell speaks with Andrew Whitehead, associate professor in the department of environmental toxicology at the University of California, Davis, about how the Atlantic killifish rescued its cousin, the gulf killifish, from extreme pollution. Whitehead talks about how a gene exchange occurred between these species that normally live thousands of kilometers apart, and whether this research could inform future conservation efforts.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Jaredzimmerman (WMF)/Yves Klein; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Kai Kupferschmidt; Meagan Cantwell;

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190503.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Noncancerous tumors of the uterus—also known as fibroids—are extremely common in women. One risk factor, according to the scientific literature, is “black race.” But such simplistic categories may actually obscure the real drivers of the disparities in outcomes for women with fibroids, according to this week’s guest. Host Meagan Cantwell speaks with Jada Benn Torres, an associate professor of anthropology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, about how using interdisciplinary approaches— incorporating both genetic and cultural perspectives—can paint a more complete picture of how race shapes our understanding of diseases and how they are treated.

 

In our monthly books segment, book review editor Valerie Thompson talks with David Rothenberg, author of the book Nightingales in Berlin: Searching for the Perfect Sound, about spending time with birds, whales, and neuroscientists trying to understand the aesthetics of human and animal music.

 

Visit the books blog Books et al. for more reviews

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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Sponsors: Columbia University

 

[Image: Carlos Delgado/Wikipedia; Matthias Ripp/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Meagan Cantwell; Valerie Thompson

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190426.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

This week we have two interviews from the 2019 annual meeting AAAS in Washington D.C.: one on the history of food and one about our own perceptions of food and food waste. 

 

First up, host Sarah Crespi talks with Christina Warinner from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, about the history of dairying. When did people first start milking animals and where? It turns out the spread of human genetic adaptations for drinking milk do not closely correspond to the history of consuming milk from animals. Instead, evidence from ancient dental plaque suggests that people from all over the world developed different ways of chugging milk—not all of them genetic.

 

Next, Host Meagan Cantwell speaks with Sheril Kirshenbaum, co-director of the Michigan State University Food Literacy and Engagement Poll, about the public’s perception of food waste. Do most people try to conserve food and produce less waste? Better insight into the point of view of consumers may help keep billions of kilograms of food from being discarded every year in the United States.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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Sponsors: Magellan TV; Columbia University

 

[Image: Carefull in Wyoming/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Meagan Cantwell

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190419.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

The ancient humans also known as the “hobbit” people (Homo floresiensis) might have company in their small stature with the discovery of another species of hominin in the Philippines. Host Sarah Crespi talks to Contributing Correspondent Lizzie Wade about what researchers have learned about this hominin from a jaw fragment, and its finger and toe bones and how this fits in with past discoveries of other ancient humans.

 

Also this week, host Meagan Cantwell speaks with Florian Schiestl, a professor in evolutionary biology at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, about his work to understand the rapid evolution of the flowering plant Brassica rapa over the course of eight generations. He was able to see how the combination of pollination by bees and risk of getting eaten by herbivores influences the plant’s appearance and defense mechanisms.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Florian Schiestl; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

  

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Lizzie Wade; Meagan Cantwell

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190412.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

A single factory in Malaysia supplies about 10% of the world’s rare earth oxides, used in everything from cellphones to lasers to missiles. Controversy over the final resting place for the slightly radioactive byproducts has pushed the plant to the brink of closure. Host Meagan Cantwell talks with freelance writer Yao Hua Law about calls to ship the waste back to where it was originally mined in Australia, and how stopping production in Malaysia would mean almost all rare earth production would take place in China.  

 

In another global trade story, host Sarah Crespi talks with freelance writer Sam Kean about close links between the slave trade and early naturalists’ efforts to catalog the world’s flora and fauna. Today, historians and museums are just starting to come to grips with the often-ignored relationships between slavers and scientists

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

 

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[Image: James Petiver, 1695; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Meagan Cantwell; Sam Kean; Yao Hua Law

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190405.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Southern California’s famous Santa Anita racetrack is struggling to explain a series of recent horse injuries and deaths. Host Meagan Cantwell is joined by freelance journalist Christa Lesté-Lasserre to discuss what might be causing these injuries and when the track might reopen.

In our second segment, researchers are racing to understand the impact of jailing people before trial in the United States. Host Sarah Crespi talks with Online News Editor Catherine Matacic about the negative downstream effects of cash bail—and what research can tell us about other options for the U.S. pretrial justice system.

Last up is books, in which we hear about the long, sometimes winding, roads that food can take from its source to your plate. Books editor Valerie Thompson talks with author Robyn Metcalfe about her new work, Food Routes: Growing Bananas in Iceland and Other Tales from the Logistics of Eating.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

*Correction, 1 April, 12 p.m.: A previous version of this podcast included an additional research technique that was not used to investigate the Santa Anita racetrack.

 

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[Image: Mark Smith/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Meagan Cantwell; Catherine Matacic; Christa Lesté-Lasserre

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190329.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Pirate’s gold may not be that far off, as there are valuable metals embedded in potato-size nodules thousands of meters down in the depths of the ocean. Host Meagan Cantwell talks with Staff Writer Paul Voosen about the first deep-sea test of a bus-size machine designed to scoop up these nodules, and its potential impact on the surrounding ecosystem.

 

In an expedition well above sea level, the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft touched down on the asteroid Ryugu last month. And although the craft won’t return to Earth until 2020, researchers have learned a lot about Ryugu in the meantime. Meagan speaks with Seiji Sugita, a professor at the University of Tokyo and the principal investigator of the Optical Navigation Camera of Hayabusa 2, about Ryugu’s parent body, and how this study can better inform future asteroid missions.

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image:  Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA); Music: Jeffrey Cook]

  

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Authors: Meagan Cantwell, Paul Voosen

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190322.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

 

Host Sarah Crespi talks with Staff Writer Daniel Clery about the many, many theories surrounding fast radio bursts—extremely fast, intense radio signals from outside the galaxy—and a new telescope coming online that may help sort them out.

Also this week, Sarah talks with Staff Writer Jennifer Couzin-Frankel about her story on researchers’ attempts to tackle the long-term effects of pediatric cancer treatment. The survival rate for some pediatric cancers is as high as 90%, but many survivors have a host of health problems. Jennifer’s feature is part of a special section on pediatric cancer.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: ESO/L. Calçada; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Daniel Clery; Jennifer Couzin-Frankel

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190315.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

New archaeological evidence suggests the same black plague that decimated Europe also took its toll on sub-Saharan Africa. Host Sarah Crespi talks with Contributing Correspondent Lizzie Wade about diverse medieval sub-Saharan cities that shrank or even disappeared around the same time the plague was stalking Europe.

 

In a second archaeological story, Meagan Cantwell talks with Gustavo Politis, professor of archaeology at the National University of Central Buenos Aires and the National University of La Plata, about new radiocarbon dates for giant ground sloth remains found in the Argentine archaeological site Campo Laborde. The team’s new dates suggest humans hunted and butchered ground sloths in the late Pleistocene, about 12,500 years ago.

 

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Ife-Sungbo Archaeological Project; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Lizzie Wade, Meagan Cantwell

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190308.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

In the wake of a devastating earthquake, assessing the extent of damage to infrastructure is time consuming—now, a cheap sensor system based on the accelerometers in cellphones could expedite this process. Host Sarah Crespi talks with Contributing Correspondent Lizzie Wade about how these sensor systems work and how they might assist communities after an earthquake.

 

In another Earth-shaking study, scientists have downgraded the height of the ancient Tibetan Plateau. Most reconstructions estimate that the “rooftop of the world” reached its current height of 4500 meters about 40 million years ago, but a new study suggests it was a mere 3000 meters high during this period. Host Meagan Cantwell speaks with Svetlana Botsyun, a postdoctoral researcher at Tübingen University in Germany, about her team’s new approach to studying paleoelevation, and how a shorter Tibetan Plateau would have impacted the surrounding area’s climate.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Martin Luff/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

  

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Lizzie Wade, Meagan Cantwell

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190301.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

In our first segment from the AAAS annual meeting in Washington, D.C., host Sarah Crespi talks with Cathy Binger of University of New Mexico in Albuquerque about her session on the role of modern technology, such as iPads and apps, in helping people with communication disorders. It turns out that there’s no killer app, but some devices do help normalize assistive technology for kids.

 

Also this week, freelance journalist Sarah Scoles joins Sarah Crespi to talk about bringing together satellite imaging, machine learning, and nonprofits to put a stop to modern-day slavery.

 

In our monthly books segment, books editor Valerie Thompson talks with Judy Gisel about her book Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction, including discussions of Gisel’s personal experience with addiction and how it has informed her research as a neuroscientist.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: ILO in Asia and the Pacific/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Sarah Scoles; Valerie Thompson

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190222.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

The app on your phone tells you the weather for the next 10 days—that’s the furthest forecasters have ever been able to predict. In fact, every decade for the past hundred years, a day has been added to the total forecast length. But we may be approaching a limit—thanks to chaos inherent in the atmosphere. Staff writer Paul Voosen joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about how researchers have determined that we will only be adding about 4 more days to our weather prediction apps.

 

Also this week, host Meagan Cantwell interviews Trygve Fossum from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim about his article in Science Robotics on an underwater autonomous vehicle designed to sample phytoplankton off the coast of Norway. The device will help researchers form a better picture of the base of many food webs and with continued monitoring, researchers hope to better understand key processes in the ocean such as nutrient, carbon, and energy cycling.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Joshua Stevens/NASA Earth Observatory; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Meagan Cantwell; Paul Voosen

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190215.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Because of its genetic complexity, the potato didn’t undergo a “green revolution” like other staple crops. It can take more than 15 years to breed a new kind of potato that farmers can grow, and genetic engineering just won’t work for tackling complex traits such as increased yield or heat resistance. Host Sarah Crespi talks with staff writer Erik Stokstad about how researchers are trying to simplify the potato genome to make it easier to manipulate through breeding.

 

Researchers and companies are racing to perfect an injector pill—a pill that you swallow, which then uses a tiny needle to shoot medicine into the body. Such an approach could help improve compliance for injected medications like insulin. Host Meagan Cantwell and staff writer Robert F. Service discuss a new kind of pill—one that flips itself over once it hits the bottom of the stomach and injects a dose of medication into the stomach lining.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Michael Eric Nickel/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Meagan Cantwell; Erik Stokstad; Robert Service

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190208.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Orla Smith, editor of Science Translational Medicine joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about what’s changed in the past 10 years of microbiome research, what’s getting close to being useful in treatment, and how strong, exactly, the research is behind those probiotic yogurts.

When you’re sick, sleeping is restorative—it helps your body recover from nasty infections. Meagan Cantwell speaks with Amita Sehgal, professor of Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, Maryland, about the process of discovering a gene in fruit flies that links sleep and immune function.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image:Open Grid Scheduler; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Orla Smith; Meagan Cantwell

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190201.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

The “dank” smelling terpenes emitted by growing marijuana can combine with chemicals in car emissions to form ozone, a health-damaging compound. This is especially problematic in Denver, where ozone levels are dangerously high and pot farms have sprung up along two highways in the city. Host Sarah Crespi talks with reporter Jason Plautz about [researchers’ efforts to measure terpene emissions]linkTK from pot plants and how federal restrictions have hampered them.

 

Next, host Meagan Cantwell talks with Dana Small, a professor of psychiatry and psychology at Yale University, about how processed foods are perceived by the body. In a doughnut-rich world, what’s a body to think about calories, nutrition, and satiety?

 

And in the first book segment of the year, books editor Valerie Thompson is joined by Erika Malim, a history professor at Princeton University, to talk about her book Creatures of Cain: The Hunt for Human Nature in Cold War America, which follows the rise and fall of the “killer ape hypothesis”—the idea that our capacity for killing each other is what makes us human.

 

 

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Wornden LY/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Meagan Cantwell; Jason Plautz

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190125.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

 

It’s incredibly difficult to get an inkling of what is going on inside gas giants Saturn and Jupiter. But with data deliveries from the Cassini and Juno spacecrafts, researchers are starting to learn more. Science staff writer Paul Voosen talks with host Sarah Crespi about new gravity measurements from Cassini’s last passes around Saturn. Using these data, researchers were able to compare wind patterns on Saturn and Jupiter and measure the mass and age of Saturn’s rings. It turns out the rings are young, relatively speaking—they may have formed as recently as 10 million years ago, after dinosaurs went extinct.   

 

Megan Cantwell then talks to science writer Laura Spinney about how researchers are fighting conspiracy theories and political manipulation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo during the country’s ongoing Ebola outbreak. In a first, the government, nongovernmental organizations, and scientists are working with community leaders to fight misinformation—and they might actually be winning.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Stuart Rankin; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Meagan Cantwell; Paul Voosen; Laura Spinney

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190118.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) provide free lectures and assignments, and gained global attention for their potential to increase education accessibility. Plagued with high attrition rates and fewer returning students every year, MOOCs have pivoted to a new revenue model—offering accredited master’s degrees for professionals. Host Meagan Cantwell speaks with Justin Reich, an assistant professor in the Comparative Media Studies Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, about the evolution of MOOCs and how these MOOC professional programs may be reaching a different audience than traditional online education.

 

Archaeologists were flummoxed when they found a brilliant blue mineral in the dental plaque of a medieval-era woman from Germany. It turned out to be lapis lazuli—an expensive pigment that would have had to travel thousands of kilometers from the mines of Afghanistan to a monastery in Germany. Host Sarah Crespi talks to Christina Warinner, a professor of archaeogenetics at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, about how the discovery of this pigment shed light on the impressive life of the medieval woman, an artist who likely played a role in manuscript production.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image:Oberlin.edu/Wikimedia Commons; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

  

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Authors: Meagan Cantwell; Sarah Crespi

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190111.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Plan S, an initiative that requires participating research funders to immediately publish research in an open-access journal or repository, was announced in September 2018 by Science Europe with 11 participating agencies. Several others have signed on since the launch, but other funders and journal publishers have reservations. Host Meagan Cantwell speaks with contributing correspondent Tania Rabesandratana about those reservations and how Plan S is trying to change publishing practices and research culture at large.

 

Some 1.7 million Jewish people were murdered by the Nazis in the 22 months of Operation Reinhard (1942–43) which aimed to eliminate all Jews in occupied Poland. But until now, the speed and totality of these murders were poorly understood. It turns out that about one-quarter of all Jews killed during the Holocaust were murdered in the autumn of 1942, during this operation. Meagan talks with Lewi Stone, a professor of biomathematics at Tel Aviv University in Israel and mathematical science at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, about this shocking kill-rate, and why researchers are taking a quantitative approach to characterizing genocides.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Michael D Beckwith; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Meagan Cantwell; Tania Rabesandratana

Direct download: SciencePodcast_190104.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

First, we hear Online News Editor David Grimm and host Sarah Crespi discuss audience favorites and staff picks from this year’s online stories, from mysterious pelvises to quantum engines.

 

Megan Cantwell talks with News Editor Tim Appenzeller about the 2018 Breakthrough of the Year, a few of the runners-up, and some breakdowns. See the whole breakthrough package here, including all the runners-up and breakdowns. 

 

And in her final segment for the Science Podcast, host Jen Golbeck talks with Science books editor Valerie Thompson about the year in books. Both also suggest some last-minute additions to your holiday shopping list.

 

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: NASA Scientific Visualization Studio; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Meagan Cantwell; Tim Appenzeller; David Grimm; Jen Golbeck; Valerie Thompson

Direct download: SciencePodcast_181221.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

In 1968, Science published the now-famous paper "The Tragedy of the Commons" by ecologist Garrett Hardin. In it, Hardin questioned society’s ability to manage shared resources, concluding that individuals will act in their self-interest and ultimately spoil the resource. Host Meagan Cantwell revisits this classic paper with two experts: Tine De Moor, professor of economics and social history at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, and Brett Frischmann, a professor of law, business, and economics at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. They discuss how premodern societies dealt with common resources and how our current society might apply the concept to a more abstract resource—knowledge.

 

Not all human skulls are the same shape—and if yours is a little less round, you may have your extinct cousins, the Neanderthals, to thank. Meagan speaks with Simon Fisher, neurogeneticist and director of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, about why living humans with two Neanderthal gene variants have slightly less round heads—and how studying Neanderthal DNA can help us better understand our own biology.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Phillip Gunz; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

  

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Authors: Meagan Cantwell

Direct download: SciencePodcast_181214.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

A new Science investigation reveals that several major private research funders—including the Wellcome Trust and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation— are making secretive offshore investments at odds with their organizational missions. Host Meagan Cantwell talks with writer Charles Piller about his deep dive into why some private funders choose to invest in these accounts.

 

In the United States, gun injuries kill more kids annually than pediatric cancer, but funding for firearms research pales in comparison. On this week’s show, host Sarah Crespi talks with staff writer Meredith Wadman and emergency physician Rebecca Cunningham about how a new grant will jump-start research on gun deaths in kids.

  

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Bernard Spragg; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

  

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Meagan Cantwell; Charles Piller; Meredith Wadman

Direct download: SciencePodcast_181207.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

In a fast-changing environment, evolution can be slow—sometimes so slow that an organism dies out before the right mutation comes along. Host Sarah Crespi speaks with staff writer Elizabeth Pennisi about how plastic traits—traits that can alter in response to environmental conditions—could help life catch up.

 

Also on this week’s show, host Meagan Cantwell talks with Marco Ajello a professor of Physics and Astronomy at Clemson University in South Carolina about his team’s method to determine the universe’s star formation history. By looking at 739 blazars, supermassive black holes at the center of galaxies, Ajello and his team were able to model the history of stars since the big bang.

 

Finally, in this month’s book segment, Jen Golbeck interviews Christine Du Bois about her book Story of Soy. You can listen to more books segment and read more reviews on our books blog, Books et al.

  

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

  

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Meagan Cantwell; Elizabeth Pennisi

Direct download: SciencePodcast_181130.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

First, we hear from science writer Joshua Sokol about his trip to the Cambrian—well not quite. He talks with host Megan Cantwell about his travels to a remote site in the mountains of British Columbia where some of Earth’s first animals—including a mysterious, alien-looking creature—are spilling out of Canadian rocks.

 

Also on this week’s show, host Sarah Crespi talks with James Hazel a postdoctoral research fellow at the Center for Genetic Privacy and Identity in Community Settings at Vanderbilt University in Nashville about a proposal for creating a universal forensic DNA database. He and his co-authors argue that current, invasive practices such as law enforcement subpoenaing medical records, commercial genetic profiles, and other sets of extremely detailed genetic information during criminal investigations, would be curtailed if a forensics-use-only universal database were created.

 

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: JOHN LEHMANN; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Meagan Cantwell; Joshua Sokol

Direct download: SciencePodcast_181123.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

When was the worst year to be alive? Contributing Correspondent Ann Gibbons talks to host Sarah Crespi about a contender year that features a volcanic eruption, extended darkness, cold summer, and a plague.

Also on this week’s show, host Meagan Cantwell talks with Andrea Di Francesco of the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging in Baltimore, Maryland, about his review of current wisdom on fasting and metabolism. Should we start fasting—if not to extend our lives maybe to at least to give ourselves a healthy old age? 

In a special segment from our policy desk, Deputy Editor David Malakoff discusses the results of the recent U.S. election with Senior Correspondent Jeffrey Mervis and we learn what happened to the many scientist candidates that ran and some implications for science policy. 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

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[Image: PHOTO BY: Scott Suchman; STYLING BY: Nichole Bryant; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Meagan Cantwell; Ann Gibbons; David Malakoff; Jeffrey Mervis

Direct download: SciencePodcast_181116.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

A new report suggests a big increase in the use of monkeys in laboratory experiments in the United States in 2017. Online news editor David Grimm joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss which areas of research are experiencing this rise and the possible reasons behind it. 

 

Also this week, host Meagan Cantwell talks with staff writer Adrian Cho about a final push to affix the metric system’s measures to physical constants instead of physical objects. That means the perfectly formed 1-kilogram cylinder known as Le Grand K is no more; it also means that the meter, the ampere, and other units of measure are now derived using complex calculations and experiments. 

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Peter Nijenhuis/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Meagan Cantwell; David Grimm; Adrian Cho

 

Direct download: SciencePodcast_181109.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

For a long time, Parkinson’s disease was thought to be merely a disorder of the nervous system. But in the past decade researchers have started to look elsewhere in the body for clues to this debilitating disease—particularly in the gut. Host Meagan Cantwell talks with Viviane Labrie of the Van Andel Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan, about new research suggesting people without their appendixes have a reduced risk of Parkinson’s. Labrie also describes the possible mechanism behind this connection.

 

And host Sarah Crespi talks with Peter Fratzl of the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam, Germany, about what materials scientists can learn from nature. The natural world might not produce innovations like carbon nanotubes, but evolution has forged innumerable materials from very limited resources—mostly sugars, proteins, and minerals. Fratzl discusses how plants make time-release seedpods that are triggered by nothing but fire and rain, the amazing suckerin protein that comprises squid teeth, and how cicadas make their transparent, self-cleaning wings from simple building blocks.  

 

Fratzl’s review is part of a special section in Science on composite materials. Read the whole package, including a review on using renewables like coconut fiber for building cars and incorporating carbon nanotubes and graphene into composites.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Roger Smith/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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[Authors: Sarah Crespi; Meagan Cantwell]

Direct download: SciencePodcast_181102.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

A group of kids is suing the US government—claiming their rights to life, liberty, and property are under threat from climate change thanks to government policies that have encouraged the use and extraction of fossil fuels. Host Meagan Cantwell interviews news writer Julia Rosen on the ins and outs of the suit and what it could mean if the kids win the day.   

 

Also this week, host Sarah Crespi talks with Andrew Moeller of Cornell University about his work tracing the gut microbes inherited through 10 generations of mice. It turns out the fidelity is quite high—you can still tell mice lineages apart by their gut microbes after 10 generations. And horizontally transmitted microbes, those that jump from one mouse line to another through exposure to common spaces or handlers, were more likely than inherited bacteria to be pathogenic and were often linked to illnesses in people.  

 

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Meagan Cantwell; Julia Rosen

Direct download: SciencePodcast_181026.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

As you age, your cells divide over and over again, leading to minute changes in their genomes. New research reveals that in the lining of the esophagus, mutant cells run rampant, fighting for dominance over normal cells. But they do this without causing any detectable damage or cancer. Host Sarah Crespi talks to Phil Jones, a professor of cancer development at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, about what these genome changes can tell us about aging and cancer, and how some of the mutations might be good for you.

 

Most Western farmers apply their pesticides using drones and machinery, but in less developed countries, organophosphate pesticides are applied by hand, resulting in myriad health issues from direct exposure to these neurotoxic chemicals. Host Meagan Cantwell speaks with Praveen Vemula, a research investigator at the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in Bengaluru, India, about his latest solution—a cost-effective gel that can be applied to the skin to limit pesticide-related toxicity and mortality.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image:Navid Folpour/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Meagan Cantwell

Direct download: SciencePodcast_20181019.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

A small isolated town in Colombia is home to a large cluster of people with fragile X—a genetic disorder that leads to intellectual disability, physical abnormalities, and sometimes autism. Spectrum staff reporter Hannah Furfaro joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss the history of fragile X in the town of Ricaurte and the future of the people who live there.

 

Also this week, we talk about greening up grass. Lawns of green grass pervade urban areas all around the world, regardless of climate, but the cost of maintaining them may outweigh their benefits. Host Meagan Cantwell talks with Maria Ignatieva of University of Western Australia in Perth and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences about how lawns can be transformed to contribute to a more sustainable future.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Adam Kerfoot-Roberts/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Meagan Cantwell; Hannah Furfaro

Direct download: SciencePodcast_181012.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

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.

 

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[Image: Stuart Rankin/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Meagan Cantwell; Adrian Cho

Direct download: SciencePodcast_181005.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Science has often treated Indigenous people as resources for research—especially when it comes to genomics. Now, Indigenous people are exploring how this type of study can be conducted in a way that respects their people and traditions. Meagan Cantwell talks with contributing correspondent Lizzie Wade about a summer workshop for Indigenous scientists that aims to start a new chapter in genomics.

 

We’ve known for decades that PCBs—polychlorinated biphenyls—are toxic and carcinogenic. In the 1970s and 1980s, these compounds were phased out of use in industrial and electronic applications, worldwide. But they are still in the environment—in soil and air—and in animal tissues, particularly those of killer whales. These toxic compounds start out at minute levels in tiny organisms, but as the small are eaten by the slightly larger, the PCB concentration increases—from plankton, to fish, to seals—until you are at killer whales with PCB-packed blubber. Ailsa Hall, director of the Sea Mammal Research Unit at St. Andrews University in Scotland, talks with host Sarah Crespi about her group’s work measuring PCB levels in different killer whale populations and calculating the effect of PCBs on those populations 100 years from now.

 

In this month’s book segment, Jen Golbeck interviews Damon Centola about his book How Behavior Spreads: The Science of Complex Contagions. You can listen to more books segment and read more reviews on our books blog, Books et al

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Public domain; Show music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180928.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Meta-analyses—structured analyses of many studies on the same topic—were once seen as objective and definitive projects that helped sort out conflicts amongst smaller studies. These days, thousands of meta-analyses are published every year—many either redundant or contrary to earlier metaworks. Host Sarah Crespi talks to freelance science journalist Jop de Vrieze about ongoing meta-analysis wars in which opposing research teams churn out conflicting metastudies around important public health questions such as links between violent video games and school shootings and the effects of antidepressants. They also talk about what clues to look for when trying to evaluate the quality of a meta-analysis.

 

Sarah also talked with three other contributors to our “Research on Research” special issue. Pierre Azoulay of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Ben Jones of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and MIT’s Heidi Williams discuss the evidence for some hoary old scientific home truths. See if you can guess who originally made these claims and how right or wrong they were:

 

  • Do scientists make great contributions after age 30?
  • How important is it to stand on the shoulders of giants?
  • Does the truth win, or do its opponents just eventually die out?

 

Read the rest of the package on science under scrutiny here.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Davide Bonazzi/@SalzmanArt; Show music: Jeffrey Cook; additional music: Nguyen Khoi Nguyen]

 

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180921.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Strawberries had both male and female parts, like most plants, until several million years ago. This may seem like a long time ago, but it actually means strawberries have some of the youngest sex chromosomes around. What are the advantages of splitting a species into two sexes? Host Sarah Crespi interviews freelance journalist Carol Cruzan Morton about her story on scientists’ journey to understanding the strawberry's sexual awakening.

 

In 2016, experimental Zika vaccines were swiftly developed in response to the emergence of serious birth defects in the babies of infected woman. Two years after the height of Zika cases, a lack of human subjects has stymied vaccine trials. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases plans to overcome this hurdle with “human challenge experiments”—vaccinating people, then intentionally infecting them with Zika to see if the vaccine helps them resist the virus. Meagan Cantwell talks with staff writer Jon Cohen about his news story that highlights the risks and rewards of human challenge experiments.

 

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; Carol Curzan Morton; Meagan Cantwell; Jon Cohen

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180914.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

We are in the middle of what some scientists are calling the sixth mass extinction and not all at-risk species can be saved. That’s causing some conservationists to say we need to start thinking about “species triage.” Meagan Cantwell interviews freelance journalist Warren Cornwall about his story on weighing the costs of saving Canada’s endangered caribou and the debate among conservationists on new approaches to conservation.

 

And host Sarah Crespi interviews Hope Michelsen, a staff scientist at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, California, about mysterious origins of soot. The black dust has been around since fire itself, but researchers never knew how the high-energy environment of a flame can produce it—until now. Michelsen walks Sarah through the radical chemistry of soot formation—including its formation of free radicals—and discusses soot’s many roles in industry, the environment, and even interstellar space.

 

Check out this useful graphic describing the soot-inception process in the related commentary article.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Darren Bertram/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Meagan Cantwell; Warren Cornwall

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180907.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

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

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

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.

 

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[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 EST

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.

 

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[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 EST

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.

 

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[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 EST

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.

 

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[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 EST

Billions of years ago, Mars probably hosted many water features: streams, rivers, gullies, etc. But until recently, water detected on the Red Planet was either locked up in ice or flitting about as a gas in the atmosphere. Now, researchers analyzing radar data from the Mars Express mission have found evidence for an enormous salty lake under the southern polar ice cap of Mars. Daniel Clery joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss how the water was found and how it can still be liquid[linkTK]—despite temperatures and pressures typically inhospitable to water in its liquid form.

 

Read the research

 

Sarah also talks with science journalist Katherine Kornei about her story on changing athletic performance after gender transition[linkTK]. The feature profiles researcher Joanna Harper on the work she has done to understand the impacts of hormone replacement therapy and testosterone levels in transgender women involved in running and other sports. It turns out within a year of beginning hormone replacement therapy, transgender women plateau at their new performance level and stay in a similar rank with respect to the top performers in the sport. Her work has influenced sports oversight bodies like the International Olympic Committee.

 

In this month’s book segment, Jen Golbeck interviews Andrew Lawler about his book The Secret Token: Myth, Obsession, and the Search for the Lost Colony of Roanoke.

 

Next month’s book will be The Book of Why: The New Science of Cause and Effect by Judea Pearl and Dana Mackenzie. Write us at sciencepodcast@aaas.org or tweet to us @sciencemagazine with your questions for the authors.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Henry Howe; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Daniel Clery; Katherine Kornei; Jen Golbeck; Andrew Lawler

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180727.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Suckling mothers milk is a pretty basic feature of being a mammal. Humans do it. Possums do it. But monotremes such as the platypus and echidna—while still mammals—gave up suckling long ago. Instead they lap at milky patches on their mothers’ skin to get early sustenance. Science News Writer Gretchen Vogel talks with host Sarah Crespi about the newest suckling science—it turns out monotremes probably had suckling ancestors, but gave it up for the ability to grind up tasty, hard-shelled river-dwelling creatures.  

 

Sarah also talks with North Carolina State University’s Sandra Yuter about her work on fast clearing clouds off the southwest coast of Africa. These immense marine layers appear to be exiting the coastal regions under the influence of gravity waves (not to be confused with gravitational waves). This finding can help scientists better model cloud behavior, particularly with respect to their influence on global temperatures.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: North Carolina State University]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Gretchen Vogel

 

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180720.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

A detection of a single neutrino at the 1-square-kilometer IceCube detector in Antarctica may signal the beginning of “neutrino astronomy.” The neutral, almost massless particle left its trail of debris in the ice last September, and its source was picked out of the sky by the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope soon thereafter. Science News Writer Daniel Clery joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss the blazar fingered as the source and how neutrinos from this gigantic matter-gobbling black hole could help astronomers learn more about mysterious high-energy cosmic rays that occasionally shriek toward Earth.

 

Read the research.

 

Sarah also talks with Cornell University’s Susan McCouch about her team’s work on deep-water rice. Rice can survive flooding by fast internodal growth—basically a quick growth spurt that raises its leaves above water. But this growth only occurs in prolonged, deep flooding. How do these plants know they are submerged and how much to grow? Sarah and Susan discuss the mechanisms involved and where they originated.

 

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Daniel Clery

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180713.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Wild polio has been hunted to near extinction in a decades-old global eradication program. Now, a vaccine-derived outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is threatening to seriously extend the polio eradication endgame. Deputy News Editor Leslie Roberts joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about the tough choices experts face in the fight against this disease in the DRC.

 

Sarah also talks with Online News Editor David Grimm about when dogs first came to the Americas[linkTK]. New DNA and archeological evidence suggest these pups did not arise from North American wolves, but came over thousands of years after the first people did. Now that we know where they came from, the question is: Where did they go?

 

Read the research.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Polio virus/David Goodsell/RCSB PDB; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; David Grimm; Leslie Roberts

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180706.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Public opinion on the morality of animal research is on the downswing in the United States. But some researchers think letting the public know more about how animals are used in experiments might turn things around. Online News Editor David Grimm joins Sarah Crespi to talk about these efforts.

 

Sarah also talks Ken Wachter of the University of California, Berkeley about his group’s careful analysis of data from all living Italians born 105 or more years before the study. It turns out the risk of dying does not continue to accelerate with age, but actually plateaus around the age of 105. What does this mean for attempts to increase human lifespan?

 

In this month’s book segment, Jen Golbeck talks with Simon Winchester about his book The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World. Read more book reviews at our books blog, Books et al.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Chris Jones/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; David Grimm; Jen Golbeck

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180629.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Since the 2016 reports of a mysterious assault on U.S. embassy staff in Cuba, researchers have struggled to find evidence of injury or weapon. Now, new research has discovered inner-ear damage in some of the personnel complaining of symptoms. Former International News Editor Rich Stone talks to host Sarah Crespi about the case, including new reports of a similar incident in China, and what kind of weapon—if any—might have been involved.

 

Sarah also talks with Staff Writer Gretchen Vogel about the bones of an extinct gibbon found in a 2200- to 2300-year-old tomb in China. Although gibbons were often featured in historical poetry and paintings, these bones confirm their presence and the fact that they were distinct from today’s species.  

 

Read the research.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Zhu Zhanji c. 1427;Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Gretchen Vogel; Rich Stone

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180622.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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.

 

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[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 EST

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 EST

 

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.

 

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[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 EST

A millennium ago, Viking navigators may have used crystals known as “sunstones” to navigate between Norway and Greenland. Sarah Crespi talks with Online News Editor David Grimm about how one might use a crystal to figure out where they are.

 

Sarah also interviews freelancer Danna Staaf about her piece on sedating cephalopods. Until recently, researchers working with octopuses and squids faced the dilemma of not knowing whether the animals were truly sedated or whether only their ability to respond had been suppressed.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image:  Nicholas Roerich, Guests from Overseas; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

  

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; David Grimm; Danna Staaf;

 

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180406.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Two of the world’s most famous research chimpanzees have finally retired. Hercules and Leo arrived in a chimp sanctuary in Georgia last week. Sarah Crespi checks in with Online News Editor David Grimm on the increasing momentum for research chimp retirement since the primates were labeled endangered species in 2015.

 Sarah also interviews freelancer Sophia Chen about her piece on x-ray ghost imaging—a technique that may lead to safer medical imaging done with cheap, single-pixel cameras.

 David Malakoff joins Sarah to talk about the big boost in U.S. science funding signed into law over the weekend.

 Finally, Jen Goldbeck interviews author Stephanie Elizabeth Mohr on her book First in Fly: Drosophila Research and Biological Discovery for our monthly books segment.

 This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 Listen to previous podcasts.

  [Image: Crystal Alba/Project Chimps; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180330.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Researchers are converging on which genes are linked to morning sickness—the nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy—and the more severe form: hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). And once we know what those genes are—can we help pregnant women feel better? News intern Roni Dengler joins Sarah Crespi to talk about a new study that suggests a protein already flagged for its role in cancer-related nausea may also be behind HG.

 

In a second segment, Tracy Bedrosian of the Neurotechnology Innovations Translator talks about how the amount of time spent being licked by mom might be linked to changes in the genetic code of hippocampal neurons in mice pups. Could these types of genomic changes be a new type of plasticity in the brain?

                              

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Jacob Bøtter/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; David Grimm; Roni Dengler

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180323.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

When Indonesia’s Mt. Toba blew its top some 74,000 years ago, an apocalyptic scenario ensued: Tons of ash and debris entered the atmosphere, coating the planet in ash for 2 weeks straight and sending global temperatures plummeting. Despite the worldwide destruction, humans survived. Sarah Crespi talks with Online News Editor Catherine Matacic about how life after Toba was even possible—were humans decimated, or did they rally in the face of a suddenly extra hostile planet?

 

Next, Julia Buck of the University of California, Santa Barbara joins Sarah to discuss her Science commentary piece on landscapes of disgust. You may have heard of a landscape of fear—how a predator can influence an ecosystem not just by eating its prey, but also by introducing fear into the system, changing the behavior of many organisms. Buck and colleagues write about how disgust can operate in a similar way: Animals protect themselves from parasites and infection by avoiding disgusting things such as dead animals of the same species or those with disease.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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  [Image: Emma Forsber/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; Catherine Matacic

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180316.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Did people domesticate animals? Or did they domesticate themselves? Online News Editor David Grimm talks with Sarah Crespi about a recent study that looked at self-domesticating mice. If they could go it alone, could cats or dogs have done the same in the distant past?

 

Next, Sinan Aral of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge joins Sarah to discuss his work on true and false rumor cascades across all of Twitter, since its inception. He finds that false news travels further, deeper, and faster than true news, regardless of the source of the tweet, the kind of news it was, or whether bots were involved.

                              

In a bonus segment recording during a live podcasting event at the AAAS Annual Meeting in Austin, Sarah first speaks with Ben Munson of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis about markers of gender and sexual orientation in spoken language and then Adrienne Hancock of The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., talks about using what we know about gender and communication to help transgender women change their speech and communication style. Live recordings sessions at the AAAS meeting were supported by funds from the European Commission.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Music: Jeffrey Cook]

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180309.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

For some time after the big bang there were no stars. Researchers are now looking at cosmic dawn—the time when stars first popped into being—and are seeing hints of dark matter’s influence on super cold hydrogen clouds. News writer Adrian Cho talks with Sarah Crespi about how this observation was made and what it means for our understanding of dark matter.

                                             

Sarah also interviews Joanna Kaplanis of Wellcome Sanger Institute about constructing enormous family trees based on an online social genealogy platform. What can we learn from the biggest family tree ever built—with 13 million members spanning 11 generations?

 

In a bonus segment recording during a live podcasting event at the AAAS annualmMeeting in Austin, Sarah talks with Michael Varnum of Arizona State University about what people think they will do if humanity comes into contact with aliens that just happen to be microbes. Live recordings sessions at the AAAS meeting were supported by funds from the European Commission.

 

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

 

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[Image: Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180302.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

We talk about the techniques of painting sleuths, how to combat alternative facts or “fake news,” and using audio signposts to keep birds from flying into buildings. For this segment, David Grimm—online news editor for Science—talks with host Sarah Crespi as part of a live podcast event from the AAAS Annual Meeting in Austin.

                            

Sarah also interviews Science News Editor Tim Appenzeller about Neandertal art. The unexpected age of some European cave paintings is causing experts to rethink the mental capabilities of our extinct cousins.

 

For the monthly books segment, Jen Golbeck interviews with William Glassley about his book, A Wilder Time: Notes from a Geologist at the Edge of the Greenland Ice.    

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Direct download: SciencePodcast_180223.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Some of our genes come alive after we die. David Grimm—online news editor for Science—talks with Sarah Crespi about which genes are active after death and what we can learn about time of death by looking at patterns of post-mortem gene expression.  

                                             

Sarah also interviews David Merritt Johns of Columbia University about the so-called sugar conspiracy. Historical evidence suggests despite recent media reports, it is unlikely that “big sugar” influenced U.S. nutrition policy  and led to the low-fat diet fad of the ’80s and ’90s.   

 

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[Image: Lauri Andler(Phantom); Music: Jeffrey Cook]

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180216.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Would happy lab animals—rats, mice, even zebrafish—make for better experiments? David Grimm—online news editor for Science—talks with Sarah Crespi about the potential of treating lab animals more like us and making them more useful for science at the same time.

                                             

Sarah also interviews Jon Abbatt of the University of Toronto in Canada about indoor chemistry. What is going on in the air inside buildings—how different is it from the outside? Researchers are bringing together the tools of outdoor chemistry and building sciences to understand what is happening in the air and on surfaces inside—where some of us spend 90% of our time.

 

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[Image: Austin Thomason/Michigan Photography; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180209.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

David Grimm—online news editor for Science—talks with Sarah Crespi about the chance a naked mole rat could die at any one moment. Surprisingly, the probability a naked mole rat will die does not go up as it gets older. Researchers are looking at the biology of these fascinating animals for clues to their seeming lack of aging.

                              

Sarah also interviews freelancer Douglas Starr about his feature story on the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study—a comprehensive study of the lives of all the babies born in 1 year in a New Zealand hospital. Starr talks about the many insights that have come out of this work—including new understandings of criminality, drug addiction, and mental illness—and the research to be done in the future as the 1000-person cohort begins to enter its fifth decade.

 

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[Image: Tim Evanson/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180202.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Catherine Matacic—online news editor for Science—talks with Sarah Crespi about how geoengineering could reduce the harshest impacts of climate change, but make them even worse if it were ever turned off.

                              

Sarah also interviews Augustine Kong of the Big Data Institute at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom about his Science paper on the role of noninherited “nurturing genes.” For example, educational attainment has a genetic component that may or may not be inherited. But having a parent with a predisposition for attainment still influences the child—even if those genes aren’t passed down. This shift to thinking about other people (and their genes) as the environment we live in complicates the age-old debate on nature versus nurture.

 

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[Image: Collection of Dr. Pablo Clemente-Colon, Chief Scientist National Ice Center; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180126.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

Freelance science writer Mike Price talks with Sarah Crespi about recently revealed  deliberations for a coveted mathematics prize: the Fields Medal. Unearthed letters suggest early award committees favored promise and youth over star power.

                              

Sarah also interviews Julia Dressel about her Science Advances paper on predicting recidivism—the likelihood that a criminal defendant will commit another crime. It turns out computers aren’t better than people at these types of predictions, in fact—both are correct only about 65% of the time.  

 

Jen Golbeck interviews Paul Shapiro about his book, Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World, in our monthly books segment.  

 

 

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[Image: Greg Chiasson/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180119.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

David Grimm—online news editor for Science—talks with Sarah Crespi about two underwater finds: the first sharks shown to survive off of seagrass and what fossilized barnacles reveal about ancient whale migrations.

                           

Sarah also interviews Staff Writer Adrian Cho about what happens after quantum computing achieves quantum supremacy—the threshold where a quantum computer’s abilities outstrip nonquantum machines. Just how useful will these machines be and what kinds of scientific problems might they tackle?

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  [Image: Aleria Jensen, NOAA/NMFS/AKFSC; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

 

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Authors: Sarah Crespi; David Grimm; Adrian Cho

Direct download: SciencePodcast_180112.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 1:59pm EST