TrueSciPhi logo



Podcast Profile: Great Moments In Science

podcast imageTwitter: @ABCscience@DoctorKarl
249 episodes
2018 to 2023
Average episode: 7 minutes
Open in Apple PodcastsRSS

Categories: Broadcast Radio Programs • Story-Style

Podcaster's summary: From the ground breaking and life saving to the wacky and implausible, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki reveals some of the best moments in science.

Discover other podcasts.

List Updated: 2024-Apr-14 06:46 UTC. Episodes: 249. Feedback: @TrueSciPhi.

2023-May-23 • 29 minutes
The Greatest Moment in Science
Dr Karl was first heard on the wireless in 1981 when he convinced Triple J that a talk about the space shuttle would be good listening because he had applied to be a NASA astronaut. The shuttle did (eventually) launch ... and along with it, the all-science-media career of one Dr Karl Kruszelnicki.This is Dr Karl's last Great Moment in Science, as we know it—but don't worry, he'll still be around and firing on all cylinders—including on Triple J's Science with Dr Karl podcast.Science with Dr Karl
Why the 'marijuana munchies' make you feel good
We know that the drug called cannabis, or marijuana, increases the appetitecommonly called the 'Marijuana Munchies', and we are finally getting closer to knowing what makes it happen. Half-a-billion years ago a biological system evolved to make sure that hungry animals would eat.
Insects fly to the light
The ancient Romans thought that insects were attracted to bright light, and then there's the well-known phrase, "drawn like a moth to a flame", so it seems like people over many years have spotted insects coming into the lights, at night. But what's the real reason?Host: Dr Karl Kruszelnicki
Dreaming a diagnosis with Dr Karl
Some sleepers who act out their dreams are later diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. As Dr Karl explains, it's one of a few slightly odd new diagnostic tools.
Sniffing out disease with Dr Karl
The power of smell can't be understated — our noses don't just sniff out tasty treats, they can also alert us to danger. In this episode of Great Moments in Science, Dr Karl tells the story of a super-sniffer who might've unlocked a powerful diagnostic tool.
How tall is time? Well, it's all relative
Atomic clocks are the most precise time-keepers we have.But that doesn't mean they can escape the timey wimey effects of gravity. In this episode of Great Moments in Science, Dr Karl explains how this enables super-accurate clocks to not just measure time, but height as well.
The physics of dunking biscuits
Humans have been dunking biscuits for as long as biscuits have existed. But why do we do it? Why are soggy biscuits so darn good?In this archive episode of Great Moments in Science, Dr Karl submerges himself into the mechanics of this age-old activity.
Want to see an eclipse without travelling? You might be waiting a while
Thousands of people will descend on the tiny WA town of Exmouth later this month to witness the Moon block out the Sun for a whopping one minute. But if you're a homebody not all that keen on a road trip, how long might it take to see a total solar eclipse from where you are right now?Dr Karl investigates in this archive episode of Great Moments in Science.
I do not like green eggs and ham... or potatoes?
Green potatoes — would you like them here or there? Would you like them anywhere?Well as Dr Karl taught us last week, potatoes contain a potentially deadly chemical, and a green tinge is its greatest tell. In this archive episode, we explore why green potatoes are best avoided.
Potentially poisonous potato no small fry
Given the right (or wrong) circumstances, the humble potato packs a punch. It contains a chemical that could kill if ingested in large amounts. The catch-22? That chemical is exactly why potatoes taste so good. In this archive episode of Great Moments, Dr Karl digs into the science.
2023-Mar-14 • 6 minutes
Of Mice and Milk
What you eat or drink just after you finish pumping iron is crucial to laying down muscle. Dr Karl weighs up the best way to bulk up, in this archive episode of Great Moments in Science from 2011.
2023-Mar-07 • 7 minutes
Avalanche under the sea
The destructive force of a wall of snow is well known. Major avalanches can not only kill, they can also completely reshape a landscape. But it's not just mountainsides we need to worry about. There are also avalanches happening under the surface of the ocean — forging canyons and threatening our telecommunications.
A slip of the tongue
There are plenty of reasons why a person might poke their tongue out. Sometimes it can be a rude or cute gesture. Maori warriors do it as a sign of defiance, and Tibetans do it as a greeting.But many times it's a sign of concentration. So here’s why your tongue helps your brain think.Host: Dr Karl Kruszelnicki
Speaking your mind—with AI
In development is an amazing new technology which may, eventually, turn your thoughts into speech. It's being designed to help people who can’t speak, turn what they're thinking into speech. But it’s still early days.
Athlete deaths—and COVID vaccines
Athletes are not just fit, they also attract a lot of media attention, especially if stories are put around that COVID vaccines are a cause of death in this group. In late 2021 such claims were being made - and they’re plainly not true.
Neanderthal DNA kills superbugs
In 2022 we found that Neanderthal DNA could kill superbugs. Wait, what ... didn't Neanderthals die out? Yes, but their hidden power could make them important in modern medicine.
Why hangovers happen, Part 2
Continuing the story about the effects of alcohol we arrive at the “drunchies”—short for the “drunken munchies”. They’re what occur after a bout of too much drinking. You become very hungry and much your way through any fast food within reach.Host: Dr Karl Kruszelnicki
Why hangovers happen, Part 1
Alcohol in small quantities can make people sociable; but too much of it can mean hangovers and associated consumption of non-nutritional foodstuffs. There's a whole chemical family of 'alcohols', so what's the deal with the one that humans kinda like—ethanol.
2023-Jan-17 • 5 minutes
How to snap spaghetti: Pt 2
For some snapping spaghetti is sacrilege — but for others it’s science.
2023-Jan-10 • 5 minutes
How to snap spaghetti: Pt 1
From spaghetti strands to trees to nanotubes — we need to know about the physics of rod-like structures.
2023-Jan-03 • 6 minutes
Trees have senses too
How do trees face an incoming threat if they can't move, see, or hear?
2022-Dec-27 • 6 minutes
Trees are made from air
Trees are solid and dense. However, they're made from air. Wait, what?
2022-Dec-20 • 6 minutes
Dark matter
About 95 per cent of the mass in the universe seems to be missing — what's going on!?
Elastin in our skin and body
Our skin is like a personal space suit protecting us from the outside world. Skin is best when you are a child—because of the elastic protein keeping it fresh and supple—but, unfortunately, that freshness doesn’t last.Host: Dr Karl KruszelnickiProducer: Diane Dean
The number of humans ever born
An interesting demographics exercise is to add up the number of humans who've existed. This is different from how many people are in a population—which in late November 2022, is about 8 billion. But using data going back as far as possible, the number of people who've existed is reckoned at over 100 billion.Host: Dr Karl Kruszelnicki
Why we wear masks—and the N95 is a good one, Part 2
One might imagine that face masks work because the multiple layers will stop a virus getting through. But no, that's not it—they use a high-tech 'melt-blown' material, developed from a technique first noticed in volcano eruptions.Host: Dr Karl KruszelnickiProducer: Diane Dean
Why we wear masks—and the N95 is a good one, Part 1
Nowadays we're pretty familiar with wearing a face mask to reduce infection rates, and that some masks are better than others.But understanding why the N95 mask is a really good mask one came as a surprise.Host: Dr Karl KruszelnickiProducer: Diane Dean
2022-Nov-15 • 8 minutes
Nuclear war would be pointless
Nuclear weapons carry enormous destructive power in a very small package. A nuclear weapon weighing about a quarter of a ton can release as much energy as exploding 1.2 million tons of TNT – that’s a multiplication factor of about five million. During the Cold War the combined numbers of US and Soviet nuclear weapons reached about 70,000. There are not so many these days but there are still enough to end civilisation as we know it.
2022-Nov-08 • 7 minutes
Gamma ray bursters, Part 2
The further adventures of some of the most powerful events in our Universe: Gamma Ray Bursts. The biggest one recorded was in October 2022, in a galaxy far, far away. What would have happened if it had exploded inside our Milky Way galaxy?
Gamma ray bursters, Part 1
First on the list of Most Energetic Events Ever in our universe is The Big Bang. No mean contender for top ranking is the "Gamma Ray Burst" - aka the GRB. GRBs can put out more energy in a few seconds than our Sun produces in its 10-billion-year lifetime.
2022-Oct-25 • 8 minutes
Lifts and their new-fangled destination despatching
The invention of the elevator made city-living possible. It made possible a rapid mixing of cultures and concepts, efficient use of energy—and ultimately, increased economic output. And now there's a further improvement called 'destination despatching'.
2022-Oct-18 • 7 minutes
Dogs 101—your canine companion
The first definite proof of a link between humans and dogs is a 15,000-year-old grave holding a dog, a man and a woman. Intensive breeding of dogs began about 200 years ago, which resulted in most of today's 450-or-so breeds. And there's a definite mutual appreciation society between people and canines
2022-Oct-11 • 6 minutes
Testes taste test
In 2013 the academic journal published an article called, “Taste perception: from the tongue to the testis”. It looked at some of the distinct taste sensations that we register in the Gustatory Cortex - the taste centre of our brain which are picked up by taste buds on the tongue. However, there's a difference between taste buds and taste receptors ... which is where the testis enters the story.
2022-Oct-04 • 7 minutes
Close encounters of the asteroid kind
Earth's defence against the existential threat of extraterrestrial rocks has been bolstered. But is it really all that important for humanity to have a plan of attack for an asteroid ambush?
2022-Sep-27 • 8 minutes
Why did Tonga's huge volcanic eruption affect Australia's surf?
It wasn't the first, second or even third issue to come up in the wake of this year's huge undersea volcanic eruption in Tonga. But the eruption, and the ensuing tsunamis, did have a far-reaching impact on the kingdom's neighbours and beyond — including on Australia's coastline.
2022-Sep-20 • 7 minutes
The Solar System Is Weird
For a long time our home solar system was all we knew. But since we’ve gotten a better look at other systems near and far, it has become apparent... our solar system is weird.
2022-Sep-13 • 7 minutes
Doubling down — taking a second look at the mystery of doppelgängers
Dr Karl explains how artificial intelligence detects and distinguishes between look-alikes.
2022-Sep-06 • 7 minutes
Look twice — why it's worth doing a double-take on your doppelgänger
The term 'doppelgänger' goes back centuries, but in recent years the internet has made it much easier to find your look-alike
2022-Aug-30 • 7 minutes
Can a coin falling from a great height be lethal?
There's a precise science behind the impact of small, falling objects. Some can be deadly. Others don't pack much of a punch.
2022-Aug-23 • 7 minutes
Earth is accelerating, Pt 3
The final installment of why the Earth is suddenly speeding up—after more than a billion years of slowing down. How do we measure the rate of the Earth’s revolution, and what happens when the time on our clocks doesn’t quite match up?
Earth is accelerating, Pt 2
Part 2 of the explanation about the accelerating spin of the Earth - which is against the trend of the last one-and-a-half billion years.
2022-Aug-09 • 6 minutes
Earth is accelerating, Pt 1
Part 1 about how the Earth is unexpectedly speeding up, and has recorded its shortest day ever – 1.59 milliseconds shorter than the standard 86,400 seconds
2022-Aug-02 • 6 minutes
Electric battery = car + house
Electricity supply is shifting to renewables, so batteries are important. It might even be cheaper to power your house with the battery from your electric car, rather than batteries specifically designed for houses.
2022-Jul-26 • 8 minutes
Adventures in nose-picking
Nose-picking is something that people find disgusting—yet we still do it. And how about the gunk that’s in your nose—is it ok to eat that?
2022-Jul-19 • 7 minutes
The number of humans between dawn and dusk
2022-Jul-12 • 6 minutes
Brain hotter than body
The highest standard for measuring body temperature is via a heart sensor—after that, it's from inside a body cavity; and you can do it from inside the mouth or the ear, but that's not as accurate, and even less so when measured on the skin. Measuring brain temperature is different again—and be astonished that the temperature of the human brain differs from the rest of the body.
2022-Jul-05 • 6 minutes
What happens when you get winded?
Have you ever been winded? You suddenly lose the ability to do something you've done 15 times each minute of your life. It's one part anatomy, one part physiology, and one part don't panic.
2022-Jun-28 • 7 minutes
Dogs tilt their heads
Dogs tend to hang around humans but do they really love us—and what’s with the head tilt? Their affability might be due to two genes known to influence sociability in mammals. Gradually genetics turned dogs and humans into best friends.
2022-Jun-21 • 7 minutes
Measles erases immune system memory
Measles is a nasty infection that you don't want to get. It can cause death and, what's more, it can also erase your immune system's memory. Only relatively recently scientists have measured this directly - by concentrating on antibodies – which can be generated by natural infection, and by vaccines.
2022-Jun-14 • 6 minutes
Anticipation is a strange experience. It can take you all the way from hope and trust, to anxiety and fear. But there’s a happy balancing point where anticipation can enrich your life.
2022-Jun-07 • 6 minutes
Drunk animals
Who’d’ve thought that one of the most sober animals is the humble hamster. They love alcohol but it doesn’t affect them. And who’d’ve thought that there’s a way to measure inebriation levels in animals - it’s called the Wobbling Scale – but hamsters NEVER wobble.
2022-May-31 • 6 minutes
The washing of bed sheets
The average recommendation is to wash your bed sheets at least every two weeks. This is because every day you shed a mix of dead skin cells, sweat, germs, and body oils.. Sometimes you can delay bed sheet washing, it all depends on what kind of things you get up to in bed.
2022-May-24 • 9 minutes
Atmospheric rivers, part 2
Very long and very widebut only a few kilometres thick, atmospheric rivers carry water from the tropics towards the poles – and they shift huge amounts of heat as well. A few decades ago, atmospheric rivers hit West Antarctica and collapsed two massive ice shelves.
2022-May-17 • 7 minutes
Atmospheric rivers, part 1
A discovery in weather in the 1990s was the Atmospheric River. They've been around for pretty much ever though - one of them bankrupted California in 1862, and another dumped lots and lots of water onto Brisbane, in February 2022.
2022-May-10 • 6 minutes
Why are whales so big?
Whales are the giants of the marine realm, and here's why they get that way.This episode was originally published in May 2018
2022-May-03 • 8 minutes
Most distant star ever found
The star Earendel came into existence a long time ago, and is now famous as the most distant single star that astronomers have been able to obtain an image of.
2022-Apr-26 • 6 minutes
Grasshopper can turn into locust
The Koran, the Bible, the Sanskrit Mahabharata, and the Greek Illiad all mention plagues of locusts, and they're seen as carvings in ancient Egyptian tombs. Large numbers of locust could have come about because, in certain circumstances, grasshoppers metamorphose—into locusts.
2022-Apr-19 • 8 minutes
Ivermectin and COVID—Part 2 of 2
The drug ivermectin is really good for treating worms; unfortunately it was falsely promoted as a COVID cure due to data errors, drug trial anomalies, or insufficient publication review.
2022-Apr-12 • 7 minutes
Ivermectin and COVID
There are many cases of drugs being repurposed once a new aspect of them is discovered—their new use is often very beneficial. One such drug is ivermectin. It works well against various parasitic infections. It does not work against COVID.
2022-Apr-05 • 7 minutes
The swing of bowling
Ball games were happening 3,500 years ago, and ever since then we’ve bounced and batted in all sorts of fun ways. We're especially interested in the mechanics of a ball curving as it travels through the air—which happens in swing bowling.
2022-Mar-29 • 5 minutes
Antarctic fiery flush
At Australia's Antarctic base they do lots of cool science stuff, and aim to create as little waste as possible—including the toilets. There's actually a toilet known as the 'Fire Breathing Dragon'—so more exciting than its official name of Electric Incinerating Toilet.
2022-Mar-22 • 8 minutes
Wood for the future
Wood has a loads of potential—from it we can make semi-conductors, batteries, steel, concrete, even plastics. It does need a lot of processing but we already do that with materials like steel, glass and concrete.
2022-Mar-15 • 8 minutes
Sydney smallpox epidemic
We're now quite familiar with terms like 'herd immunity' and 'epidemic', and that when separate groups of people—with separate germs—meet for the very first time, things can turn out badly. If you have never been exposed to a specific germ you won't be primed for protection against it.
2022-Mar-08 • 5 minutes
Worm blobs
When digging the compost pile into the garden, Dr Karl noticed a ball of entangled shape-shifting worms. You might think 'yuck'—but there's a 'wow' factor because some animal groupings can generate intelligence, giving the group an advantage over solitary individuals.
2022-Mar-01 • 6 minutes
Black holes bared
The final piece about why the 100 million or so black holes in our Milky Way galaxy are missing.
2022-Feb-22 • 7 minutes
Black hole buddies
More on the almost-emptiness that is black holes. Because they're invisible, they're difficult to find—but sometimes get discovered because they give off X-rays.
2022-Feb-15 • 6 minutes
Black hole basics
Even though it sounds totally crazy, astronomers are very confident that black holes exist. Our galazy is really old, it should carry at least 100 million black holes but we’ve found only a couple of dozen of them.
2022-Feb-08 • 7 minutes
Fartology 101—common scents
There's really no 'genteel' way to say it, this week we're... passing wind. But even though it's totally natural, it can be embarrassing.
2022-Feb-01 • 7 minutes
COVID-19—the petering pandemic
It used to be thought that a pathogen (or germ) and its host develop in a 'mutually benign relationship'—this was called the 'Law of Declining Virulence'. If the common cold killed us there would be less hosts and the virus would decrease. So the common cold virus mutated to become less lethal, and more common. The Law of Declining Virulence was debunked in the 1980s, and the pathogen/host relationship is actually pretty complicated.
2022-Jan-25 • 8 minutes
Power steering kills steering
Power steering on a car involves various rods of steel moving relative to one another. How the rods connect is why mechanics are dealing with an unexpected problem.
2022-Jan-18 • 7 minutes
DJ bats double the Doppler
Thanks to some fuzzy-looking photos, bat echolocation just got more amazing.This program was originally published on 3 September 2019
2022-Jan-11 • 5 minutes
Brain freeze
Why do some people get headaches from eating ice-cream or drinking something very cold.This program was originally published on 19 February 2019
2022-Jan-04 • 7 minutes
Bacteria of champions
It's not just their ability to run 42 kilometres that separates marathon runners from the rest of us. They've got a secret energy source in their gut.This program was originally published on 5 November 2019
2021-Dec-28 • 8 minutes
The end of the internal combustion engine?
Combustion engines are marvels of engineering and power, but will they feature in the cars of the future?This program was originally published on 8 October 2019
2021-Dec-21 • 6 minutes
Balloon popping
When a balloon pops, sometimes it leaves lots of small fragments of rubber, and sometimes it leaves just a couple of larger pieces. What's going on?This program was originally published on 14 May 2019
2021-Dec-14 • 5 minutes
Bird brains - dense, not dumb
Some birds, especially parrots, songbirds and the entire crow family, are surprisingly intelligent - and not just compared with other birds.
2021-Dec-07 • 7 minutes
The colour of bird poo
Bird poo is usually coloured white—because of the way birds excrete excess nitrogen. But the poo can sometimes be a different colour—because of their diet. Creatures have evolved three main ways of getting rid of excess nitrogen.
2021-Nov-30 • 7 minutes
What to know about sunscreens
Australia is very sunny, and because of that it's a skin cancer hotspot. UV light triggers skin cancer but sunscreen blocks UV light—so is it better to apply more? Not really—and do not mix your sunscreens because there are two different types.
2021-Nov-23 • 7 minutes
How the earth is round
Even in this day and age there are people who think that the earth is flat. The educated people of ancient Greece - about two and a half thousand years ago - had already figured out that the Earth was round. They observed the data that was right in front of them.
2021-Nov-16 • 7 minutes
More about the body when free diving
When diving to very great depths the body has mechanisms to cope - on the way down, and then back to the surface.
2021-Nov-09 • 8 minutes
The body and free diving
Free diving has a current world record of around 214 m straight down—that's greater than the height of 50-storey building. For thousands of years free divers would collect salvage from shipwrecks to build underwater barricades against invaders.
2021-Nov-02 • 7 minutes
Probiotics and Pre-biotics
The benefits of natural foods have always been a big deal. And there really is a tiny nugget of truth in the proclamations—but it's been greatly hyped
2021-Oct-26 • 7 minutes
Longest powered flight
We’ve been flying planes with engines for over a century, so have a guess at the record for the longest duration of powered flight - more than two months! And it was set more than half a century ago.
2021-Oct-19 • 7 minutes
Infertility and COVID-19 vaccines Part 2
Further intel on a mistruth being spread by social media - that COVID-19 vaccines can cause both male and female infertility. With males, the COVID disease can cause infertility, the COVID vaccines do not. The false claim about female infertility was that the vaccine would make the woman’s own immune system attack her natural proteins. No studies have proved this claim.
2021-Oct-12 • 7 minutes
Infertility and COVID-19 vaccines Part 1
We have several pretty good COVID-19 vaccines. They have enormously reduced the risks against getting sick, or dying from COVID. So why are people saying “no” to COVID vaccines? It seems the main reason for avoiding the very protective vaccines is wave after wave of misinformation and dis-information in social media. Let's make some aspects easier to understand.
2021-Oct-05 • 7 minutes
Hidden Figures: the extraordinary women in science
Science is meant to be about data and logic, and yet that doesn't always stop it from being discriminatory. Women in science don't always get the recognition they deserve, but they have made extraordinary contributions.
2021-Sep-28 • 6 minutes
How equal is an equinox?
If an equinox is truly equal, it should fall on a day when there's just as much darkness as there is daylight. But that's not always exactly the case, so what's going on?
2021-Sep-21 • 6 minutes
Cosmic cannibalism
What happens when two stars eat each other to death? And does one get the last laugh in this tale of cosmic cannibalism?
2021-Sep-14 • 6 minutes
Reaction Faster Than Action
Ever wondered how in Western gunfights, the person who is first to draw their gun is the first to get shot? It turns out that under threat, our muscles work faster than normal.
2021-Sep-07 • 7 minutes
Metabolism Mysteries
Our long-held beliefs about metabolism - you know that thing supposedly responsible for making you put on weight with age - might be wrong.
2021-Aug-31 • 8 minutes
Wing Walking: a sport not for the faint-hearted
For most of us, travelling by plane means boarding and buckling in. But Wing Walkers don't stop there - they venture outside of the plane too.
2021-Aug-24 • 7 minutes
Our Sixth Sense: the Sick Sense
Can you tell someone is sick just by looking at them? It turns out many of us can.
2021-Aug-17 • 6 minutes
The Muon Magnetic Anomaly: The Land of the Unknown Unknowns
There are mysteries all around us, but here's one that might just be the next Big Breakthrough of Physics! The Muon Magnetic Anomaly.
2021-Aug-10 • 7 minutes
Muon Mystery Part 2: The 'Jewel of Physics' becomes a duel with physics
There are mysteries all around us, but here's one that might just be the next Big Breakthrough of Physics! The Muon Magnetic Anomaly.
2021-Aug-03 • 7 minutes
The Muon Magnetic Anomaly: A Quantum Mystery!
There are mysteries all around us, but here's one that might just be the next Big Breakthrough of Physics! The Muon Magnetic Anomaly.
2021-Jul-27 • 7 minutes
The Dirt On Food
Is it true that Big Agriculture has totally ruined our soil, and used up practically all of its goodness, so there’s barely any nutrition left in our food? Well, no - but like all good myths, there is a small grain of truth.
2021-Jul-20 • 8 minutes
Collagen Pt 2: a complex and wonderous protein
There's a lot of claims out there about the benefits of taking collagen supplements. Last week we spoke about the structure of collagen and what it does in the body. So what happens when you eat or drink it as a supplement?
2021-Jul-13 • 6 minutes
Collagen Pt 1: can you really eat or drink your way to smoother skin?
One thing that we are quite confident about is that collagen is part-and-parcel of having healthy and glowing skin. But what about the claim that if you eat or drink it, the molecules will magically make their way to exactly where they are needed to smooth out that wrinkle on your face?
2021-Jul-06 • 6 minutes
What happens when a black hole eats a neutron star?
Astronomers have measured something amazing – a black hole eating a neutron star. In fact, they found this happening twice in just 10 days.We have found dozens of black holes smashing into each other, and we’ve found a handful neutron stars smashing into each other, but a black hole eating a neutron star – well that’s new!
2021-Jun-29 • 6 minutes
The Mighty Water Bear
What creature has survived five mass extinctions, can do just as well in space as on earth, withstand temperatures as hot and cold as you can imagine and perform show-stopping feats of survival? The mighty water bear!
2021-Jun-22 • 6 minutes
Vaccine Victory Via Chickens
What can chickens teach us about the way out of a pandemic?
2021-Jun-15 • 7 minutes
Chlorophyll Water — part 2
Chlorophyll water has re-emerged as a darling of the wellness world - but does it stand up to the hype?
2021-Jun-08 • 8 minutes
Chlorophyll Water - part 1
Chlorophyll water has re-emerged as a darling of the wellness world - but does it stand up to the hype?
2021-Jun-01 • 7 minutes
Sleep update
It's not a good plan to skimp on sleep. A regular seven to nine hours a night puts you in a better position to live longer, and better.
2021-May-25 • 7 minutes
Development of vaccines
Vaccines are not a new invention. One of the very first effective vaccinations against disease came from China about 1,500 years ago - and was widely used there to combat Smallpox.
2021-May-18 • 7 minutes
Animal navigation
Today’s technology has given us an avalanche of information about how, and where, animals travel. We have radar, motion-activated cameras, drones, DNA sequencing, as well as battery-powered geo-location devices that are light enough to be carried by butterfly, but powerful enough to send their data to orbiting satellites.
2021-May-11 • 8 minutes
Elements of you
Our modern periodic table has 118 known chemical elements. About 94 of them occur naturally and the rest were manufactured by us. An element is a pure substance made of atoms that have the same numbers of protons in their central nucleus. What does an atom look like, and where are these protons?
2021-May-04 • 6 minutes
First known computer, Pt 3
Dr Karl still has more to tell us about the first known computer - this week it's Part 3. After its discovery it took a little while to clean up - and for the conservators to see what was on the inside. They still didn't know what it was meant to do.
2021-Apr-27 • 7 minutes
First known computer, Pt 2
Going deeper into the Antikythera Mechanism - a box with 30 bronze gears inside connected to three dials outside. It predicted the movements of a bunch of astronomical data. But let's start with eclipses of the Sun.
2021-Apr-20 • 6 minutes
First known computer, Pt 1
We tend to think of computers as being a fairly recent invention. But the world’s oldest known computer is actually a few thousand years old. It’s called the Antikythera Mechanism
2021-Apr-13 • 6 minutes
Staring into empty space
Gazing off into empty space or being the target of a ‘stare bear’, it can happen to us all. Staring into the middle distance can be relaxing and head-clearing, but fixing our eyes on nothing at all for a very long time can be just plain dangerous.
2021-Apr-06 • 7 minutes
Virus 104
The last few episodes have considered the difference between a virus and a bacterium; wondered whether a virus is alive or not; and looked at our discovery of these incredibly tiny critters. While mysteries surrounding viruses are intriguing, without them we couldn’t have babies or even think.
2021-Mar-30 • 6 minutes
Virus 103
This COVID-19 pandemic is the first one for 102 years. In 1918-1920 we had an influenza pandemic, which we now refer to as the Spanish Flu. Back then we didn’t know about a thing called a ‘virus’, so in 1918 no-one knew what was killing people. But we did know about germs.
2021-Mar-23 • 7 minutes
Virus 102
Bacteria and viruses both have the genetic code needed to make babies but only a bacterium has all the biological machinery to make another bacterium. A virus has to get into a cell and make it start manufacturing copies of the virus. So, is a virus 'alive' – well, depends on the definition.
2021-Mar-16 • 7 minutes
Virus 101
2020 will be remembered as the Year of the Virus – the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. By early 2021 the COVID virus had truly left its mark on our population, lifestyle, and biosphere. But the universe is complicated, and viruses can be good guys too.
2021-Mar-09 • 7 minutes
Value of human life
Trying to talk about the dollar value of a human life really sounds like cold hard economics. Knowing how the calculations are done is chilling. But human life does have a value. Bizarrely, trying to work that out began with trying to work out the "value of death".
2021-Mar-02 • 7 minutes
Bulldust asymmetry
Fake News has been around for thousands of years. You’ve probably heard of Nero, who was accused of playing the fiddle while Rome burned. But nowadays, the word gets around a lot faster. Thanks to the Internet and Social Media, a lie can travel around the world before the truth has even got out of bed. So fake news spreads quickly, and it takes more time to set straight than it took to tell the original lie.
2021-Feb-23 • 8 minutes
Smell, part 2
More on how under-rated our sense of smell is – and how loss of smell can be an early indicator of COVID-19. In your DNA many of the genes associated with smell are located right next to a big bunch of genes that form your immune system. As a baseline, pre-COVID-19, about 1-5% of the general population had no sense of smell, and another 5-13% had a lessened sense of smell. But COVID-19 has bumped these percentages way up.
2021-Feb-16 • 6 minutes
Smell, part 1
We see our human sense of smell as woefully inadequate compared to other animals – but awareness of our sense of smell has become more of a hot topic recently with the COVID-19 pandemic. A significant number of people who get the virus lose their sense of smell early on. It seems that a loss of smell can be a very good early sign of COVID-19 infection.
2021-Feb-09 • 7 minutes
How to measure a building
In a classic scientific 'urban myth' a physics student is asked to measure the height of a building using a barometer. In 2020 French and Italian physicists wrote a paper called 61 Ways To Measure The Height Of A Building With A Smart Phone. This opened up a bunch of extra-modern measuring methods because of the smartphone's array of internal sensory gadgets.
2021-Feb-02 • 8 minutes
Universe in a lifetime
Modern, pre-COVID, travel means it’s possible to trip around the world quite quickly. What if we had a super-advanced future rocket technology that could keep us accelerating at 1G. You could travel billions of light years - in less than a human lifetime!
2021-Jan-26 • 7 minutes
The worst plane of WW2
During World War II a curious aircraft was built by the German air force. Its purpose was to combat Allied bombers, but not everything went to plan. What sounded like a ‘good idea at the time’ became, probably, the Worst Plane of World War II.
2021-Jan-19 • 9 minutes
BP's Carbon Campaign
Why would the fossil fuel company BP promote the idea of reducing our individual 'carbon footprint'?
2021-Jan-12 • 9 minutes
Migrating Species
Climate change has begun displacing species, but just how many are on the move?
2021-Jan-05 • 7 minutes
Carrington Event
What was the mysterious Carrington Event of 1859? And why did it affect telegraph systems?
2020-Dec-29 • 7 minutes
Palaeolithic Dieting
Is it true that our bodies would prefer the 'Paleo diet'?
2020-Dec-22 • 6 minutes
Ribbon Curling
What twisted trickery causes ribbons to curl?
2020-Dec-15 • 8 minutes
Hot Dog Eating
What's the maximum number of hot dogs someone could eat in 10 minutes?
2020-Dec-08 • 7 minutes
Where does the world's dust come from? And how does it constantly fill up our homes!?
2020-Dec-01 • 9 minutes
Carbon Footprints
Are discussions about your individual 'carbon footprint' really a distraction, shifting blame onto everyday citizens?
2020-Nov-24 • 7 minutes
Future Hamburgers
Would you eat a hamburger patty that was grown in a lab? What about fake meat that looks and tastes just like the real thing?
2020-Nov-17 • 9 minutes
Tea Bag Saves Space Station
A cuppa tea can be a life-saver - sometimes, literally!
2020-Nov-10 • 7 minutes
Parking, science-style
Understanding thyself, and taking the middle path, can lead to a much faster and calmer parking experience
2020-Nov-03 • 9 minutes
The a-b-c of hepatitis - part 2
Could we really rid the world of Hepatitis C?
2020-Oct-27 • 7 minutes
The a-b-c of hepatitis - part 1
Hepatitis C is one sneaky little disease, caused by an equally sneaky virus.
2020-Oct-20 • 7 minutes
Beetroot wee and spag bol stains
What is it with red food and stains? So many things!
2020-Oct-13 • 6 minutes
The 'tail' of the missing anus
Regrowing your tail is one thing - but what if you lose more than your tail in the first place?
2020-Oct-06 • 7 minutes
When copper meets COVID
Copper is like kryptonite to COVID-19.
2020-Sep-29 • 6 minutes
For black holes, matter doesn't size
They can be superemassive, but black holes still have no size.
2020-Sep-22 • 7 minutes
Dead fish can swim
Why you should always read back copies of the Journal of Fluid Mechanics.
2020-Sep-15 • 7 minutes
Pterodactyl take-off
That's not a dinosaur - it's a flying catapult!
2020-Sep-08 • 6 minutes
Fish boot camp
Why are scientists exercising fish ... with a coffee plunger?
2020-Sep-01 • 6 minutes
The case of the disappearing bum - part 2
This creature has the only known case of an 'on-demand anus'
2020-Aug-25 • 6 minutes
The case of the disappearing bum - part 1
The anus is highlight of animal evolution - but it's still full of surprises.
2020-Mar-17 • 7 minutes
Spider intelligence
They've got brains smaller than a pinhead, but spiders can count!
2020-Mar-10 • 7 minutes
Holy electric flying spiders!
Arachnophobes beware - flying B-grade horror spiders ahoy!
2020-Mar-03 • 7 minutes
Putting Einstein to the test - part 2
The short story: he passed the test. Again.
2020-Feb-25 • 7 minutes
Putting Einstein to the test - part one
There are very few places weird enough to test out Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.
2020-Feb-18 • 7 minutes
The perfect coffee
At last - the real secret to the perfect espresso!
2020-Feb-11 • 8 minutes
Australian bushfires - part 3
A lot of players had a role in our horrific 2019/2020 bushfire season. Luckily, El Nino was not one of them.
2020-Feb-04 • 7 minutes
Australian bushfires - part 2
Are these bushfires really unprecedented and related to global warming?
2020-Jan-28 • 8 minutes
Australian bushfires - part 1
The science behind our cataclysmic bushfire season
2020-Jan-21 • 8 minutes
NASA's space pen
The truth behind NASA's 'billion dollar' space pen.
2020-Jan-14 • 7 minutes
The flat earth myth myth
Medieval people thought the world was flat right? Wrong.
2020-Jan-07 • 7 minutes
Atomic gecko
Spiderman has got nothing on geckos when it comes to sticking to walls.
2019-Dec-31 • 6 minutes
Why do we sleep?
What our brains do when we clock off for the night...
2019-Dec-24 • 8 minutes
5G hysteria is coming: part 2
If mobile phones don't cause cancer, why did two US studies show they do?
2019-Dec-17 • 8 minutes
5G hysteria is coming ...
5G promises incredibly fast download speeds - but what about those cancer rumours?
2019-Dec-10 • 6 minutes
Coffee naps
Coffee or a nap? Actually, both.
2019-Dec-03 • 7 minutes
Are you a mozzie magnet?
If you're pregnant, a bloke or a beer drinker, you're a prime target for mosquitos.
2019-Nov-26 • 7 minutes
How do planes really fly?
If you're bursting to shout "Bernoulli!", think again ... Also, CONGRATULATIONS to Dr Karl from all of us at ABC Science!
2019-Nov-19 • 7 minutes
Ultraprocessed foods
Obesity has been on the rise since the mid-seventies. As have ultraprocessed foods. Co-inky-dink?
2019-Nov-12 • 7 minutes
Is a vegan diet healthy?
Can you be truly healthy on a diet that excludes both meat and dairy?
2019-Nov-05 • 7 minutes
Bacteria of champions
It's not just their ability to run 42 kilometres that separates marathon runners from the rest of us. They've got a secret energy source in their gut.
2019-Oct-29 • 6 minutes
What happens when you get winded?
Have you ever been winded? You suddenly lose the ability to do something you've done 15 times each minute of your life. But why?
2019-Oct-22 • 6 minutes
Knife in the dishwasher - part two
At last - the answer to the burning question in kitchens the world over: does the dishwasher blunt your sharp knife?
2019-Oct-15 • 12 minutes
Knife in the dishwasher: part one
Have you heard that you shouldn't put your sharp stainless steel kitchen knives in the dishwasher because they might go blunt?
2019-Oct-08 • 7 minutes
The end of the internal combustion engine?
Combustion engines are marvels of engineering and power, but will they feature in the cars of the future?
2019-Oct-01 • 6 minutes
The not-so-boring billion
We all go through slow patches - but the Earth went through a famous boring phase that lasted one billion years. Or did it ...
2019-Sep-24 • 8 minutes
And the Ig Nobel prizes go to ...
A new year, and a new crop of research to make us laugh and then make us think.
2019-Sep-17 • 8 minutes
Red sky at night... sailors' delight?
Could a glowing red sunset really foretell the next morning's weather?
2019-Sep-10 • 7 minutes
Jargon moving forwards
Jargon has way more uses than just playing Buzzword Bingo. It's a popular item in the propaganda and social toolkits.
2019-Sep-03 • 7 minutes
DJ bats double the Doppler
Thanks to some fuzzy-looking photos, bat echolocation just got more amazing.
2019-Aug-27 • 8 minutes
Diseases stink!
Joy Milne has a superpower. She can smell Parkinson's disease - years before it's diagnosed.
2019-Aug-20 • 7 minutes
Dead brains revived!
Tabloids love using 'Frankenstein' in headlines about science research. But this time, they weren't completely wrong.
2019-Aug-13 • 7 minutes
Mirror Universe: part two
A nine second difference between physics experiments could have big implications. A whole universe worth of them!
2019-Aug-06 • 7 minutes
Mirror Universe: part 1
As if our regular universe isn't crazy enough - there might be a completely different 'mirror' universe lurking amongst us!
2019-Jul-30 • 7 minutes
Running out of sand: part two
The future of sand is ... recycled plastic?
2019-Jul-23 • 7 minutes
Running out of sand, part one
How could something as common as sand possibly be running low?
2019-Jul-16 • 6 minutes
Marco Polo and spaghetti: part two
There's plenty of evidence that Marco Polo didn't introduce pasta from China. So where did that myth start?
2019-Jul-09 • 6 minutes
Marco Polo and spaghetti: part one
We all know that Marco Polo brought spaghetti to the western world from his travels in China. Or did he?
2019-Jul-02 • 8 minutes
Tobacco denialism: part two
A meeting in 1953 created the formula for a smokescreen that's still playing out today. And it's gone way beyond tobacco.
2019-Jun-25 • 7 minutes
Tobacco denialism: part one
When the science is certain, how do you push a product that kills? Ask Big PR.
2019-Jun-18 • 7 minutes
Our solar system is weird
With our planets spread far and wide - and no super-sized Earths - we're nothing like the other solar systems we've found.
2019-Jun-11 • 8 minutes
5G hysteria is coming: part 2
If mobile phones don't cause cancer, why did two US studies show they do?
2019-Jun-04 • 7 minutes
5G hysteria is coming ...
5G promises incredibly fast download speeds - but what about those cancer rumours?
2019-May-28 • 8 minutes
Where gold comes from: part two
When it comes to making gold, alchemists never stood a chance. For that magic you need cataclysmic collisions, dying megastars and black holes.
2019-May-21 • 7 minutes
Where gold comes from: part one
Gold can come from jewellery shops, bank heists, Mints and mines. But where is gold made?
2019-May-14 • 6 minutes
Balloon popping
When a balloon pops, sometimes it leaves lots of small fragments of rubber, and sometimes it leaves just a couple of larger pieces. What's going on?
2019-May-07 • 7 minutes
Say cheese
Hard, soft, smelly or blue - there's a cheese for every occasion. But is it time to rethink our relationship with this delicious dairy product?
2019-Apr-30 • 6 minutes
Easter and the Equinox
Easter Sunday can fall in March or April, but the date is definitely not random.
2019-Apr-23 • 7 minutes
Washing clothes: part two
Clothing is made of threads, which are made of smaller-still fibres. And that's where the dirt hides.
2019-Apr-16 • 6 minutes
Washing clothes: part one
Until recently, scientists couldn't work out how a washing machine actually lifted the dirt out of clothes.
2019-Apr-09 • 7 minutes
Vaping, e-cigarettes, and big tobacco
Tobacco has done bad things for public health — but what about e-cigarettes?
2019-Apr-02 • 7 minutes
Rogue planets: part two
Planets going rogue and abandoning their star to wander the galactic hood could actually be pretty common.
2019-Mar-26 • 6 minutes
Rogue planets: part one
Rogue planets drift freely through our galaxy, rather than orbiting around a star — and researchers estimate there could be billions in the Milky Way alone.
2019-Mar-19 • 7 minutes
Barcode invention: part two
Barcodes look deceptively simple, but it took 25 years - and two episodes of Great Moments in Science! - to get from that lightbulb moment on a beach to the first barcode and scanner at a checkout.
2019-Mar-12 • 7 minutes
Barcode invention: part one
The story of the barcode has everything - from gangsters to newborns and a whole lot of sand.
2019-Mar-05 • 6 minutes
Holy Hole Phobia!
If that image is creeping you out, you could have trypophobia.
2019-Feb-26 • 7 minutes
Seashell Ocean Sound
When you pick up a seashell and hold it to your ear, why can you hear the sound of the ocean?
2019-Feb-19 • 5 minutes
Brain freeze
Why do some people get headaches from eating ice-cream or drinking something very cold
2019-Feb-12 • 7 minutes
Dodging rocks
We're all just one small rock away from extinction.
2019-Feb-05 • 6 minutes
Our planetary neighbourhood
Everybody needs good planetary neighbours. But who is our closest?
2019-Jan-29 • 6 minutes
Left face attractiveness
Want to look good? Put your left face forward.
2019-Jan-22 • 6 minutes
Mobile phones and empathy
Is a mobile phone getting in the way of your relationship?
2019-Jan-15 • 6 minutes
Fast food and your brain
Are you aware of all the crafty tricks fast food retailers use to keep you coming back for more?
2019-Jan-08 • 6 minutes
Fork 'n' food
Would using a larger fork lead to you eating more food, less food, or just the same amount?
2019-Jan-01 • 7 minutes
Hiccups cure: part two
A hiccup cure that really works — if you're brave enough.
2018-Dec-25 • 6 minutes
Hiccups cure: part one
Why exactly do we hiccup? Is there a cure!?
2018-Dec-18 • 7 minutes
Mass of a proton: part two
How can relativity and quantum mechanics create mass in a tiny particle?
2018-Dec-11 • 7 minutes
Mass of a proton: part one
The Universe is made of atoms — but what are atoms made of?
2018-Dec-04 • 7 minutes
Cube-shaped wombat poo
Have we finally figured out how wombats make cube-shaped poo!?
2018-Nov-27 • 6 minutes
Do fish drink water?
The answer to this question is a little surprising, not least because it involves wee.
2018-Nov-20 • 7 minutes
Black hole in the Milky Way: part two
Astronomers have seen stars and superhot gas flying in orbits that bring them very close to the supermassive black hole in the middle of our galaxy — and this has taught us a huge amount about the nature of black holes.
2018-Nov-13 • 7 minutes
Black hole in the Milky Way: part one
Black holes have no size, but have a huge mass — and there's an enormous one right in the middle of our galaxy.
2018-Nov-06 • 6 minutes
Geotagged photos
Are you accidentally sharing your precise location, whenever you upload a photo?
2018-Oct-30 • 7 minutes
Measure Earth
Reckon you could measure the circumference of the Earth using just a stick and some basic geometry?
2018-Oct-23 • 7 minutes
Cigarettes radioactive
You've probably heard cigarettes are bad for you — but did you know tobacco contains radioactive material?
2018-Oct-16 • 8 minutes
Alkaline diets
It's said that the 'alkaline diet' can help you lose weight, and fight off cancer — but it looks like these claims don't stand up.
2018-Oct-09 • 7 minutes
Kiss the Sun: part two
After hearing about the Parker Solar Probe's mission to the Sun, now Dr Karl is taking a closer look at how it'll survive this fiery journey.
2018-Oct-02 • 7 minutes
Kiss the Sun: part one
There's still a lot we don't know about the burning ball of gas that sustains life on Earth — but the Parker Solar Probe could help.
2018-Sep-25 • 5 minutes
How to snap spaghetti: part two
For some snapping spaghetti is sacrilege — but for others it’s science.
2018-Sep-18 • 5 minutes
How to snap spaghetti: part one
From spaghetti strands to trees to nanotubes — we need to know about the physics of rod-like structures.
2018-Sep-11 • 8 minutes
Snooping microphones in your home?
Many of us have microphones in our homes, attached to smart phones and personal assistant devices.
2018-Sep-04 • 6 minutes
The faults in our bodies
Our bodies are a marvel of sophisticated engineering — almost without exception.
2018-Aug-28 • 7 minutes
Mapping DNA to save lives
DNA can help us work out family trees, catch bad guys ... and now as a tool in emergency medicine.
2018-Aug-21 • 5 minutes
The loneliest ATM
Hint: the loneliest ATM is in a very, very cold place.
2018-Aug-14 • 9 minutes
Do ships have an effect on sea level?
Plunking yourself into a bath fairly full with water makes the water level rise — and overflow. What about ships and the ocean?
2018-Aug-07 • 6 minutes
Goldfish memory
The poor old goldfish has be slandered for far too long.
2018-Jul-31 • 7 minutes
Are vitamins always good for you?
Having more vitamins will make you healthier... right?
2018-Jul-24 • 6 minutes
Wasted food
Humans waste a huge amount of food every year.
2018-Jul-17 • 7 minutes
Daddy long legs
Fact or fiction: Daddy-long-legs are the most poisonous spiders in the world?
2018-Jul-10 • 6 minutes
Anaesthetic bomb
Could a villain or hero knock out a room full of enemies with a so-called 'anaesthetic bomb'?
2018-Jul-03 • 7 minutes
Humans vs volcanoes
Which would win*: humans or volcanoes?(*In a fight over carbon emissions)
2018-Jun-26 • 7 minutes
The dunes of Pluto
Yup, there are dunes on Pluto — and in other parts of our Solar System.
2018-Jun-19 • 7 minutes
A1 vs A2 milk
Is it worth paying more for A2 milk? What's the evidence that it might be better for you?
2018-Jun-12 • 6 minutes
Cockroach milk
Is "cockroach milk" the next "superfood"? Do cockroaches even make milk!?
2018-Jun-05 • 6 minutes
Sightseeing from Orbit
Can an astronaut really see the Great Wall of China from space?
2018-May-29 • 6 minutes
Road trip to future travel
130 years ago one woman went on the first road trip and made history. Is it time for another change in transportation?
2018-May-22 • 6 minutes
Gunpowder vs sandwich
Which do you think packs more punch — gunpowder or a sandwich?
2018-May-15 • 6 minutes
Why are whales so big?
Whales are the giants of the marine realm, and we've only recently discovered why they're so huge.
2018-May-08 • 6 minutes
Trees have senses too
How do trees face an incoming threat if they can't move, see, or hear?
2018-May-01 • 5 minutes
The Wood Wide Web
They may not be able to walk, but trees do talk — at least to each other.
2018-Apr-24 • 6 minutes
Trees are made from air
Trees are solid and dense. However, they're made from air. Wait, what?
2018-Apr-17 • 6 minutes
Coal's hidden health cost
Sulphur dioxide pollution from coal-fired power stations can have bad health effects — but who picks up the bill, and could power stations be doing more?
2018-Apr-10 • 6 minutes
Speaking in tongues
Imagine waking up one day and speaking with a different accent — with no control over it! Thanks to a very rare syndrome, this can actually happen.
2018-Apr-03 • 6 minutes
The hummingbird: a furnace with feathers
Hummingbirds have a suite of incredible and unique features. However, one of their most important traits can lead to an early death.
2018-Mar-27 • 6 minutes
Aboriginal stories accurate
For thousands of years, Australian Aboriginal people have accurately passed down information from one generation to the next using oral traditions.
2018-Mar-20 • 6 minutes
Phone porting and identity theft
Are you doing everything you can to stop thieves from stealing your identity and 'porting' your phone number?