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Podcast Profile: New Scientist Weekly

podcast imageTwitter: @newscientist (followed by 147 science writers)
Site: www.newscientist.com
137 episodes
2020 to present
Average episode: 29 minutes
Open in Apple PodcastsRSS

Categories: News-Style

Podcaster's summary: Keep up with the latest scientific developments and breakthroughs in this award winning weekly podcast from the team at New Scientist, the world’s most popular weekly science and technology magazine. Each discussion centers around three of the most fascinating stories to hit the headlines each week. From technology, to space, health and the environment, we share all the information you need to keep pace. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

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List Updated: 2022-Sep-28 12:10 UTC. Episodes: 137. Feedback: @TrueSciPhi.

Episodes
2022-Sep-22 • 27 minutes
#137 How to turn the shipping industry green; Enceladus passes habitability test
‘Get it Done’ is the theme for this year’s Climate Week in New York, with hundreds of events taking place across the city. Reporter James Dinneen is there, and brings us news about how to reduce the massive impact of the shipping industry on greenhouse gas emissions. NASA’s DART mission is the first real-world planetary defence mission. And on Monday a 500-kilogram satellite will smash into a small asteroid called Dimorphous to try and change its orbit. The team explains what the mission hopes to achie...
2022-Sep-15 • 24 minutes
#136 A step towards building artificial life; solar-powered slugs
Ribosomes are tiny protein-making factories found inside cells, and a crucial component of life. And now a team of scientists has figured out how to make them self-replicate outside of cells. Without getting all Mary Shelley, the team says this is a step towards creating artificial life.On a trip to the Isles of Scilly, Rowan found a spectacular lifeform of the week. On the shores of Porthcressa beach on St Mary’s island, he found a solar-powered sea slug, with the help of Scott and Samaya of Scilly Rockpoo...
2022-Sep-08 • 28 minutes
#135 The Amazon passes a tipping point; a place to live only 100 light years away
The Amazon rainforest may have passed the tipping point that will flip it into savannah. A new report suggests that large portions of the rainforest have been either degraded or destroyed, which could have disastrous consequences. The team hears from the Science Panel for the Amazon, who say we must step in now to support regeneration efforts. If you’re looking for a drummer for your new band, you might want to hire a chimp. The team hears recordings of chimps drumming on the buttresses of tree roots i...
2022-Aug-31 • 26 minutes
#134 Artemis moon mission; decoding the dreams of mice
The launch of NASA’s Artemis moon rocket didn’t go to plan this week. The team looks at the problems that stopped this long-awaited launch. And with the launch rescheduled for Saturday, they find out what the mission hopes to achieve. Deep below the surface of the Earth live nearly half of all microbes on the planet. While studying life in the deep biosphere is tough, the team shares an exciting development. Researchers have managed to find and analyse a type of heat-loving bacteria, called thermophile...
2022-Aug-24 • 26 minutes
#133 A treatment for food allergies; predicting earthquakes
There may be a way of treating, or even preventing, food allergies. A promising new trial has used a fat molecule called butyrate to treat peanut allergies in mice. The problem is, butyrate smells like dog poo, so the team finds out how researchers are getting around that issue. We’ve long thought earthquakes happen randomly, but that may not be the case. A new modelling technique using old records and machine learning shows we may be able to predict earthquakes, which could save millions of lives. The...
2022-Aug-17 • 29 minutes
#132 Impact of drought; monkeys using sex toys
Droughts in many parts of Europe are the worst in 500 years. Even as temperatures begin to cool and some rain begins to fall, it may be a long time till we’re out of the woods. The team explores the impact the droughts are having on things like food production, energy and transport, and wildlife.Monkeys use sex toys too - who knew? Long-tailed macaques in a Balinese sanctuary have figured out how to use stone tools to masturbate. The team finds out what’s going on…Radiation exposure is one of the biggest is...
2022-Aug-11 • 30 minutes
#131 Why thinking hard tires you out; game-changing US climate bill
The US is about to pass an historic piece of climate legislation. The Inflation Reduction Act allocates $370 billion to climate mitigation, and the team explores how that money will be spent - plus why some people think the bill holds us hostage to fossil fuel.Do you ever get embarrassed talking to Siri when you’re out in public? Well, the team learns about an experimental new piece of tech called EarCommand, which may make communicating with your virtual assistant less awkward.Thinking hard is tiring - and...
2022-Aug-04 • 34 minutes
#130 How to reverse death; Neil Gaiman on Sandman; AlphaFold and biology’s revolution; life in the multiverse with Laura Mersini-Houghton
A new type of artificial blood has been created which, in the future, could bring people back from the dead - or what we think of now as dead, at least. This special fluid has been shown to preserve the organs of dead pigs, long after what was previously thought possible - which the team says could be a game-changer for organ transplants. Rowan talks to legendary writer Neil Gaiman about the new Netflix series, out this week, based on his smash-hit Sandman comics. They also discuss the function of drea...
2022-Jul-28 • 45 minutes
#129 BlueDot special: Mysteries of the universe; stories of hope and joy; growing tiny human brains; solving global problems
Welcome to a special edition of the show recorded live at the bluedot music festival. On the panel are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper and Abby Beall, along with Emmy-nominated composer Hannah Peel and geoscientist and broadcaster Chris Jackson.With the awesome Lovell radio telescope dominating the sky above the festival, this episode begins with astronomy news, and in particular stories from the James Webb Space Telescope - including its mission to look at the atmosphere of rocky planets in the sear...
2022-Jul-21 • 23 minutes
#128 Extreme heatwaves; China’s space station launch; covid’s effects in pregnancy; a black hole symphony
Following scolding 40 degree record temperatures, it’s clear the UK is not set up to deal with such heat. But as extreme weather events become more common, how can we prepare for a hotter future? The team finds out, and looks to the US and Europe where hot temperatures are also wreaking havoc.China’s space plans are rocketing forward, as the country prepares to launch the second part of its space station into orbit on 24 July. With the third and final module due to launch in October, the team finds out what...
2022-Jul-14 • 28 minutes
#127: Pig hearts transplanted into dead people; James Webb Space Telescope gives best-ever view of the universe; boosting wheat genetics to feed the world
After the first pig-human transplant patient died just 2 months after receiving his new heart, researchers are now testing modified pig hearts by transplanting them into recently deceased people on life support. The team discusses a new experiment which has shown very promising results.NASA has revealed stunning images of deep-space captured by the James Webb Space Telescope - and there’s so much more to come. The team explains how the telescope is like a time machine, helping us to peer back into the early...
2022-Jul-07 • 30 minutes
#126: Are we stuck in a time loop? Legal action against climate change; covid fifth wave; time loop are we stuck?
Ten years since the discovery of the fabled Higgs boson, can the Large Hadron Collider ever make us that excited again? Physicists are now kind of bored by the Higgs - the hype has well and truly died down. So as the LHC kicks off its third period of operation, the team asks whether there will be anything new to get them fired up again.How do large hawks land without crashing? That’s what a team of researchers has been trying to find out. The team explains how their findings could help with future innovatio...
2022-Jun-30 • 29 minutes
#125: Poo transplants cure IBS; climate change shrinks the human niche; CRISPR babies; monkeypox latest
The world’s first CRISPR babies are now toddlers. Now, nearly four years since the super-controversial experiment was announced, scientists in China want to set up a healthcare institute specifically to look after the three children. The team examines the ethics of it all.Humans thrive at particular temperatures, and that’s why we live where we live. But these areas of optimal climate are shrinking because of climate change. As we’re on course to hit 2.7 degrees of warming by the end of the century, the tea...
2022-Jun-23 • 28 minutes
#124: Lopsided universe; solar activity affects heart health; hero rats trained for rescue missions
If you like things orderly, we have bad news for you - our universe is lopsided. Based on everything we know about gravity and the early universe, we’d expect galaxies to be distributed symmetrically - but they’re not. Something spooky’s going on, and the team searches for answers.The activity of the Sun may be affecting our heart health. Sometimes the weather on the Sun gets a little chaotic, and the team discusses new research that suggests these solar storms are messing with our heart rhythms, raising th...
2022-Jun-16 • 29 minutes
#123: ‘Sentient’ claim for Google AI; spacecraft spots starquakes; the rise of the mammals; hot brains
How will we know when we’ve made a truly sentient artificial intelligence? Well, one Google engineer believes we’re already there. The team discusses the story of Google’s very clever AI called LaMDA, and ask another chatbot, GPT3, what it would think if LaMDA was destroyed.Did you know stars have ‘earthquakes’ too? These starquakes have been spotted by the Gaia space observatory, which aims to build a 3D map of all the stars in our galaxy. It’s been collecting a phenomenal amount of data, and the team expl...
2022-Jun-09 • 27 minutes
#122: The science of Top Gun; the 1.5°C climate goal is out of reach; return to the moon; hepatitis mystery
While it may be technically possible to keep global heating to 1.5°C it’s really not very likely - at all. So why are we clinging to it? The team asks, when do we admit that 1.5°C is dead, and what will it mean when we do?NASA is about to launch its CAPSTONE spacecraft into lunar orbit, paving the way for its lunar space station. As a precursor to the Artemis mission to put people back on the moon, CAPSTONE is basically a test run, and the team explains its goals.Rowan’s been to see Top Gun: Maverick, and h...
2022-Jun-01 • 30 minutes
#121: Creation of artificial life; gene therapy saves children’s lives; new understanding of chronic pain
Synthetic cell membranes have been fused with protein machinery from living cells to create an artificial membrane. Could this be a precursor to the creation of artificial life? The team discusses its potential and limitations.Babies with severe genetic conditions are being cured by new gene replacement therapies, allowing them to overcome fatal diseases. There are a number of different treatments which have seen success, and the team finds out how they work. The DNA of two people who were killed by th...
2022-May-26 • 30 minutes
#120: DeepMind claims artificial intelligence breakthrough; searching for ancient life on Mars; Stonehenge surprise; monkeypox latest
DeepMind’s new artificial intelligence, Gato, is a step beyond anything we’ve seen before. But how close has it brought us to the coveted goal of creating ‘artificial general intelligence’? The team unpacks just how powerful this technology really is, and what it means for the future of machine consciousness.You can learn a lot from poop. In an archaeological detective story, 4500-year-old fossil excrement belonging to the people who built Stonehenge has been examined, and the team explains what it tells us...
2022-May-19 • 26 minutes
#119: How to tackle the global food crisis; rainforest animal orchestra; George Monbiot on humanity’s biggest blight
We’re in the middle of a global food crisis, brought on by a combination of the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and the war in Ukraine. As food prices rise and the world faces “hunger on an unprecedented scale”, the team looks for solutions.The health of an ecosystem can be measured through sound alone. The team discusses a new field of study called ecoacoustics which is being used to assess biodiversity, sharing sounds of an ‘animal orchestra’ recorded in the Brazilian rainforest.Rosie the Rocketeer (...
2022-May-12 • 29 minutes
#118: Heatwaves push limits of human tolerance; chemical computer to mimic brain; first non-human to practice medicine
It feels like temperature records are being broken almost daily. We’ve seen heatwaves already this year in Texas and Mexico, with forecast highs of 50oC set to hit Pakistan and India. As we edge closer to breaking 1.5 degrees of global warming in the next 5 years, Rowan speaks to climate scientist Vikki Thompson from the University of Bristol, to find out how heatwaves are pushing at the limits of what humans can cope with.Chemical computers have taken a step up. Lee Cronin and his colleagues at the Univers...
2022-May-05 • 26 minutes
#117: US threat to women’s health; saving the world with bacteria; Darwinian feminism and primate gender; invasion of the earthworms
Women’s abortion rights are under threat in the US. Leaked documents suggest the Supreme Court is on the verge of overturning the landmark Roe v Wade decision that protects the right to abortion. The team discusses the dramatic impact this move could have on women’s health.Eating microbes could save the world. The team examines a new study which found that substituting just a fifth of the meat in our diets with microbial proteins would more than halve global deforestation rates and related carbon emissions....
2022-Apr-28 • 32 minutes
#116: DNA from outer space; Devi Sridhar on covid lessons; climate change in an Oxford wood
Could life on Earth have an extraterrestrial origin? The team revisits this ancient theory as we’ve now found all four of the key building blocks of DNA on meteorites that are older than our planet.There may be a warning signal in our brains that helps us keep out unwanted thoughts. The team hears about the fascinating word-pairing method researchers used to identify this mechanism, and how the findings could help people with PTSD, OCD, and anxiety disorders.When we talk about climate change, we often think...
2022-Apr-21 • 29 minutes
#115: Quantum consciousness; next decade of space exploration; songs played on rat whiskers
What is consciousness? We’ve discussed many theories on the podcast, but in this episode the team explores a particularly bonkers one. Experiments with anaesthetics have hinted that something might be going on at the quantum level with microtubules in the brain. But is this finding enough?Ever wondered what a rainbow sounds like? Or perhaps what sounds a rat’s whiskers would make if played like a harp? Then wonder no longer! You can hear these sounds and more as the team speaks to musician and TV presenter ...
2022-Apr-14 • 18 minutes
#114: A message to aliens, phage therapy for acne, calibrating the world’s oldest computer
Two teams are developing messages to send into space, in the hope that some advanced alien civilization will be able to pick them up. While METI is sending music, Beacon in the Galaxy is sending more complex information, like Earth’s location - which as the team explains is rather controversial…Acne is usually treated using antibiotics, but as the issue of antibiotic resistance grows, researchers have been looking at alternative methods. The team discusses the promising early successes of phage therapy.Most...
2022-Apr-07 • 28 minutes
#113: Climate change: suing governments to cut emissions; shock discovery in particle physics; a new function for dreams
The latest major report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is out, and the message is clear. Time is running out to keep global warming to below 1.5 degrees. The report outlines the many ways we can make emissions cuts, one of which is through litigation. Hear from one of the report’s authors, Joana Setzer, who explores the growing use of legal action to challenge governments and corporations.Physicists are excited this week about a new finding that might challenge the standard model of part...
2022-Mar-31 • 26 minutes
#112: Gene therapy success; biodiversity talks; the genetics of blood sucking; the farthest star ever seen
A world-first gene therapy has been used to successfully treat a rare genetic skin disease. Referred to as “the worst disease you’ve never heard of”, the condition makes everyday living an ordeal. The team finds out how this new treatment works.Astronomers have detected a star more than 27 billion light years away - the most distant individual star we’ve ever seen. The team explains how this finding could shed light on what was going on in the early universe, ‘shortly’ after the Big Bang.In a bid to tackle ...
2022-Mar-24 • 28 minutes
#111: Antarctic and Arctic record-breaking heat; octopus brains insight; black hole paradox explained
Extreme weather events have been recorded at both of Earth’s polar regions, as the Arctic and Antarctic are hit by major heat waves. To put this into context, Rowan speaks with climate scientist and Hot Air author Peter Stott.How did octopuses get to be so clever? Their intelligence is unusual for an invertebrate, so researchers have been trying to track down what’s going on in their brains. The team examines new findings which suggest it has something to do with microRNAs.Black holes have always been myste...
2022-Mar-18 • 29 minutes
#110: Solution for Ukraine food crisis; why young blood rejuvenates; climate horror in Australia; Hannah Peel’s new music
As 10 percent of the world’s wheat comes from Ukraine, Russia’s attack on the country could spark global food shortages. But the team discuss a simple solution to the problem that could have knock-on benefits for climate and biodiversity.In vampire news, the team explains how we may have found the secret ingredient in young blood that causes it to have rejuvenating powers. This comes off the back of a 2012 study which saw old mice rejuvenated fur after being transfused with the blood of the young.Cases of c...
2022-Mar-11 • 32 minutes
#109: Ukraine war stokes energy crisis; emergency sounded over Amazon rainforest; secular intelligent design; mammalian virgin birth
The war in Ukraine has sparked an energy crisis, as European countries attempt to cut ties with Russia. The team discusses what this means for the future of energy production and how it may speed up our pivot to renewable energy. They also explore the growing concerns at various nuclear sites in Ukraine, as some have been seized by the Russians, while others have been damaged during the conflict.For the first time a virgin birth has taken place in a mammal - a female mouse has given birth without any input ...
2022-Mar-04 • 33 minutes
#108: Ukraine: health crisis and threat of nuclear war; IPCC report on limits to climate adaptation; Wuhan origin of covid
As the war in Ukraine intensifies, Vladimir Putin raised Russia’s nuclear readiness level. The team discusses what this means about the likelihood of nuclear war. They also explore the unfolding humanitarian crisis in the country.The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report is out, and it focuses on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. We hear from Swenja Surminski, head of adaptation research at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.New studies into the star...
2022-Feb-25 • 33 minutes
#107: Ukraine invasion: cyberwar threat and effect on climate targets; Covid pandemic isn’t over; how we sense pain
Russia has begun its invasion of Ukraine, a move which will have far reaching consequences. The team discusses two of those - the first being western Europe’s reliance on oil and gas from Russia, and the knock-on effect on climate targets. The second is the threat of Russian cyberattacks on Ukraine, which could cause huge disruption to internet and IT services globally.The last remaining covid restrictions have been scrapped in England, as the Prime Minister announces the country’s ‘living with covid’ plan....
2022-Feb-18 • 30 minutes
#106: Saving children from cancer; new ways to remove greenhouse gases; brain growth in adults
Children with some of the most aggressive forms of cancer are being saved by a personalised medicine treatment programme in Australia. The Zero Childhood Cancer Program has saved more than 150 children who would’ve otherwise died. The team shares a moving interview with one of the parents. Lichens evolve even more slowly than you might think. The team examines new research into the abundant Trebouxia genus of lichen which appears to take around a million years to adapt to changing climate conditions.En...
2022-Feb-11 • 26 minutes
#105: Electrodes treat paralysis; first detected isolated black hole; the ancient human inhabitants of a French cave; breakthroughs in transplant organs from pigs; why you should pick up your dog’s poo
Three men paralysed from the waist down have regained their ability to walk. They’re the subjects of a breakthrough operation which involves implanting electrodes in the spine. The team explains how the method works.Astronomers have detected an isolated black hole for the first time ever. Despite being 5000 light years away and incredibly difficult to spot, the team explains how the Hubble Space Telescope was able to do it.A cave in France is providing us with an intriguing snapshot of human activity in Fra...
2022-Feb-04 • 29 minutes
#104: Gene variant for extreme old age, gravitational waves and dark matter, what fruit flies tell us about nature and nurture
The quest for a longer life continues - raising the question of whether we can escape death. The team discusses a rare gene variant that may explain why centenarians live so long - and how we might be able to use it to create age-defying drugs.The team explores a theory that suggests gravitational waves may be the thing that finally helps us detect dark matter - we just need to look for the ‘gravitational glint’.Spring is rolling around earlier and earlier. The team examines a new study which shows that sin...
2022-Jan-28 • 32 minutes
#103: How covid affects brain function; glacier loss on Svalbard; start of the Anthropocene; hottest life on Earth
Covid-19 can have profound consequences for the brain, and now we’re beginning to understand why. The team explains how the virus causes issues from strokes to muscle-weakness and brain-fog. We have names for all of Earth’s geological phases, and right now we’re in the Anthropocene… or are we? The epoch hasn’t actually been officially named, but the team says researchers are working on it. Rowan returns home from Norway with a story about melting glaciers in the Arctic circle. He speaks to Norwegi...
2022-Jan-21 • 28 minutes
#102: Living with covid; Tonga eruption; neutral atom quantum computers; phage therapy for superbugs; AI with Beth Singler
We’re being told we have to “learn to live with covid”, but what exactly does that mean? In this episode the team discusses how we live with flu and the measures we’ll need to take to prevent wave upon wave of covid-19 infections and deaths. There’s been a massive volcanic eruption in Tonga that’s caused widespread damage, and the team examines the impact it's having on the island nation. There’s more news in the race to build the world’s best quantum computer - the team finds out about a unique way of buil...
2022-Jan-14 • 33 minutes
#101: Man gets first pig heart transplant; robot therapy for mental health; omicron update; dolphin sexual pleasure
David Bennett has become the first person in history to have a pig to human heart transplant. Scientists have edited several genes to make this possible. On the pod, the team say that if it proves successful longer term, it could be a game-changer for medicine. In cetacean news, have you ever wondered why dolphins have so much sex? Patricia Brennan from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts has been studying dolphin clitorises, and shares her findings with the team. We now know much more about the omicron ...
2022-Jan-07 • 24 minutes
#100: New Scientist journalists pick out their scientific and cultural highlights for 2022
In this special episode the team looks ahead to the next 12 months, sharing the science and cultural events they’re most looking forward to in 2022. Highlights include the launch into orbit of SpaceX’s Starship, the opening of a new Stonehenge exhibition at The British Museum, the TV adaptation of Kate Atkinson’s novel ‘Life After Life’, and an innovative new breast cancer trial. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Tiffany O’Callaghan, Adam Vaughan, Graham Lawton and Richard Webb. To read about thes...
2021-Dec-24 • 40 minutes
#99: The legendary New Scientist end-of-year holiday party and quiz
What a year 2021 has been. For our final podcast of the year, we’re signing off with a party and quiz. And as this is a Christmas special, this quiz delivers a sleigh-full of optimism, starting with a look at the ‘funniest science story of the year’. Other categories include ‘the story that made you feel small’, ‘life form of the year’, ‘hero of the year’ and ‘most surprising story’. Contestants also field questions from the audience and they share the story they’re most hoping for in 2022. Rowan Hooper is ...
2021-Dec-17 • 26 minutes
#98: Brain cells wired to the Matrix; omicron latest; how to make truly intelligent machines; the mysterious border between sleep and wake
In a step towards creating intelligent cyborg brains, Cortical Labs in Melbourne have trained lab-grown brain organoids to play a classic 1970s video game. The team explains how the brain cells live in a Matrix-like, simulated world, where all they know is Pong. And there’s more AI news, as the team digs into DeepMind’s invention of a ‘search engine’ style supercomputer, one much smaller than its competitors. The team discusses sleep, and how manipulating the hypnagogic phase of sleep can lead to bursts of ...
2021-Dec-10 • 28 minutes
#97: The latest on omicron; Don’t Look Up review; Steven Pinker on human rationality; the sound of melting glaciers
Omicron is spreading quickly and once again we’re facing another wave of infections and restrictions over the holiday period. The team says although it’s early days, we’re beginning to get a handle on why this covid-19 variant is so good at dodging immunity, and they unpack ‘misleading’ reports that it causes milder infections.  Climate journalist Emily Atkin joins the team to discuss Netflix’s new satire Don’t Look Up, which follows the story of two astronomers and their attempts to warn humanity of a...
2021-Dec-03 • 23 minutes
#96: What does the rise of omicron mean for us?; living robots able to reproduce; mini black holes and the end of the universe
Omicron, a new covid-19 variant of concern, has become the most common variant in South Africa and is spreading fast. The team examines fears that it may be more transmissible than the delta variant, and better at evading vaccines and immunity. Following research of 5000-year-old beer jars, the team finds out that Ancient Egyptians used to eat (or drink?) alcoholic beer porridge - seriously! Then they go back even further in time to discover the origins of water, and how new evidence suggests water first ar...
2021-Nov-26 • 26 minutes
#95: The origin of coronavirus; how red light boosts eyesight; deflecting asteroids; body chemical changes human behaviour
Where did covid-19 really come from? Well, the team explains why the wet market in Wuhan is back on top as the most likely place of origin. They also look ahead to the future of the pandemic, as the delta variant continues to run rampant across the globe. In eyesight news, forget carrots - if you want to improve your vision all you need (maybe) is some red light. The team digs into new research which shows that red light can boost mitochondrial activity in cells - but will it prove useful? The team get a li...
2021-Nov-19 • 28 minutes
#94: IBM’s huge quantum computer, Russia’s anti-satellite weapon, the verdict on COP26, AI predicting the next legal highs
The race for quantum supremacy continues, with IBM setting a new benchmark for processing power. But the new supercomputer hasn’t actually demonstrated its capabilities just yet - so will it really beat its competitors? The team shares the latest. They also report on Russia’s ‘dangerous’ anti-satellite weapon test, which sent fragments of satellite hurtling towards the International Space Station. They hear from founder of the popular science YouTube channel Kurzgesagt, Philipp Dettmer, about his new book I...
2021-Nov-12 • 37 minutes
#93: COP26 special, week 2: voices from the Global South; what does the Glasgow Accord look like - and where does it go from here on climate action
Young climate activists from nations bearing the brunt of climate change speak out. In this COP26 special, hear the moving and impassioned words of the young voices representing the plight of the Global South, as they demand action and reparations. As the climate summit comes to an end, the team in Glasgow reflect on their experiences of the event, and unpack the pledges and commitments that have been made. Ahead of the release of the official cover decision - the document that will outline the main outcome...
2021-Nov-05 • 34 minutes
#92: COP26 week 1 special from Glasgow; first Earthlings to go interstellar; genetically engineered microbes for our cells
It’s the most consequential climate meeting in a generation. COP26 is underway and we’re bringing you special episodes of the podcast featuring in-depth analysis and interviews. Reporter Graham Lawton is in Glasgow and shares his experiences of the event, discussing positive news about “game-changing” pledges to cut methane emissions. There have been many exciting pledges made at the event, and the team examines new analysis that suggests we could keep global warming under the 2 degrees mark if countries fo...
2021-Oct-28 • 25 minutes
#91: Earth heading for climate disaster; Kim Stanley Robinson looks to the future; hunt for aliens; Tesla worth $1 trillion
The Earth could be heading for disaster. In the lead up to COP26 the team discusses The Emissions Gap, a new UN report which has found that even if countries around the world stick to their emissions pledges, the planet will still warm by 2.7°C, which would be catastrophic. Legendary sci-fi writer Kim Stanley Robinson makes an appearance, discussing his climate heroes, thoughts on geoengineering and on the future of the planet. The team unveils the news that a signal from space that looked like it was sent ...
2021-Oct-21 • 29 minutes
#90: COP26 climate playlist; the science of Dune; life-saving treatment for children without immune systems; covid sweeps Iran
In rare cases children can be born without an immune system, and sadly their chances are very bad. Fortunately the team brings news of a life-saving implant which has now been approved for use in the US. If you’re thinking of seeing the new film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s epic novel Dune, you’ll want to hear the insights of ecosystem professor Yadvinder Malhi. Herbert was amazingly ahead of his time, anticipating the work of James Lovelock and the Gaia hypothesis, for example. The team hears about the w...
2021-Oct-14 • 22 minutes
#89: Climate-ready food of the future; the biology of poverty; deepfake audio; mystery cosmic signal; Captain Kirk in space
Breadfruit could help us weather the storm of climate change. The team hears how the tropical fruit is tough enough to survive Earth’s warming temperatures and could even replace staple crops like wheat in the future. The team finds out why children living below the poverty line experience a raft of health issues, as new research examines the mechanisms that are at play. They also explore a good old fashioned space mystery, after strange signals have been detected from an unknown object at the centre of our...
2021-Oct-07 • 27 minutes
#88: Should climate activism go to extreme levels?; malaria vaccine; new drugs to treat covid; mission to the asteroid belt
The team opens with the welcome news that after 37 years of development, the world’s first malaria vaccine has been approved. They then hear from Swedish author Andreas Malm, who argues that the climate movement needs to get more militant. He says the likes of Extinction Rebellion have 'peace-washed' historical accounts of protest movements, and, controversially, puts the case for escalating from mass civil disobedience to engage in property destruction. The fight against covid is picking up pace ...
2021-Sep-30 • 27 minutes
#87: Mini black holes impacting the moon; first CRISPR gene-edited food goes on sale; why leaves turn brown in autumn
CRISPR gene-edited food has gone on sale commercially for the first time. The team finds out about this ‘super tomato’ which has been created by a startup in Japan. Have you ever wondered why leaves change colour in the autumn? The team discusses an evolutionary explanation suggesting that leaf colour is a signal. Following Greta Thunberg’s latest speech at the pre-COP26 event Youth4Climate, the team reflects on Germany’s recent election, which could be very positive for action on climate change. They also ...
2021-Sep-23 • 28 minutes
#86: The woman who couldn’t smell; solving the climate and biodiversity emergencies; China’s quantum of solace
Imagine going your whole life without being able to smell - and then suddenly you can. The team tells the amazing story of a woman who first gained the ability to smell aged 24 - a case which has scientists baffled. Efforts to tackle the climate and biodiversity crises need to be unified. We hear from Nathalie Pettorelli of the Zoological Society of London, lead author of a new paper calling for a more joined up approach, with an emphasis on nature-based solutions. The team discusses the latest developments...
2021-Sep-16 • 31 minutes
#85: The violent frontline of climate change; bringing back the mammoth; another first for SpaceX
In some parts of the world, taking a stand for the planet can be incredibly dangerous. This week we hear from Laura Furones, of the campaign group Global Witness, on the finding that 227 environment activists were murdered in 2020. She explains why this is happening and what needs to be done to protect these people. In de-extinction news, $15 million has been given to a team hoping to bring mammoths back to life. While exciting news for some, evolutionary biologist Tori Herridge discusses the ethical implic...
2021-Sep-09 • 27 minutes
#84: Health benefits of male flatulence; cave dwellings on Mars; covid booster shots
Great news for the more flatulent among us - breaking wind is a sign of good gut bacterial health. The team discusses a slightly unsavoury experiment in which men weighed their poos, stored them in freezers, and even had their farts measured… all in the name of science. The team also questions the wisdom of rolling out covid-19 booster jabs. Some countries are already gearing up to deliver dose number three, all while poorer populations struggle to get their hands on a first dose. Potential homes have been ...
2021-Sep-02 • 30 minutes
#83: Low carbon shipping; Anil Seth on consciousness; humanity’s ancient history in Arabia; quantum gravity
A bold move from the world’s largest shipping company could have big implications for the planet . Maersk has bought ships which can run on both traditional fuel and methanol. This alternative fuel, the team explains, could drastically reduce shipping’s contribution to global CO2 emissions. Neuroscientist Anil Seth puts forward a radical new theory of the self, the subject of his latest book Being You – A New Science of Consciousness. The team explains how researchers are inching closer to solving one of t...
2021-Aug-26 • 25 minutes
#82: Taliban seize Afghan biometric equipment; uploading our brains to machines; investigating Nazi uranium
Equipment from a massive biometrics programme in Afghanistan has been seized by the Taliban. From police and election commission programmes, they “have everything” according to one expert. The team explores the potential dangers caused by the Taliban’s access to this equipment. They also discuss the past and future of artificial intelligence with author Jeanette Winterson as she dives into her new book ‘12 Bytes’. A uranium cube that dates back to the Nazi’s atomic bomb programme is being examined by expert...
2021-Aug-19 • 29 minutes
#81: Breakthrough in nuclear fusion; mini human brain grown with eyes; rapid evolution of synthetic bacteria
Recreating the power of the sun, the dream of nuclear fusion - it’s a dream we’re inching ever closer to. A new breakthrough at a lab in the US has the team excited, and they catch up with Jeremy Chittenden, co-director of the Centre for Inertial Fusion Studies at Imperial College London, to get the latest. The team then see how evolution has proved, once again, that it is cleverer than we are, as an artificial ‘minimal cell’ created by scientists demonstrates its ability to adapt and evolve dramatically an...
2021-Aug-12 • 28 minutes
#80: Analysis of IPCC climate report; the rise of synthetic milk; discovery of new carnivorous plant
A lead author of the latest IPCC climate report, Tamsin Edwards, joins the team for a special episode of the podcast. News headlines have left many concerned, and with more questions than ever, so the team devotes a large chunk of the show to unpacking the findings of the report, and emphasising hope and action over doom and gloom. Linked to the issue of climate change is the agricultural industry’s impact on the environment, but there’s hope there too. The team explains how precision fermentation technolog...
2021-Aug-05 • 23 minutes
#79: Google creates a time crystal; microplastics in human placenta; boosting China’s vaccines; our climate future
As severe weather events around the world give us a very real taste of the devastating effects of climate change, we’re also getting a better understanding of what the future holds for our planet. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change releases its big report on the physical basis of climate change next week - the team previews what’s to come. They also explain why a number of nations are now mixing and matching their vaccine doses in order to stop the spread of the covid-19 delta variant. For the fi...
2021-Jul-29 • 28 minutes
#78: Will covid evolve to evade vaccines?; the oldest animal fossils ever found; predicting climate change’s extreme weather
More than a week since England lifted its covid restrictions, infection numbers in the UK are very high. The team examines how the country has set up the perfect circumstances for the evolution of “escape variants” - forms of the virus that may be able to evade our immune systems and vaccines. The team also learns of the discovery of the earliest fossil animals ever found - sponges that are 350 million years older than anything we’ve seen before. They explain how a 14-legged single-cell organism is able to ...
2021-Jul-22 • 25 minutes
#77: Is dropping covid restrictions unethical?; methane hints to life on Mars; Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin’s road to space
Freedom day arrived in England this week, as the country dropped most covid restrictions. But as cases continue to rise and many people, children included, remain unvaccinated, the team discuss why hundreds of experts are calling the move an ‘unethical experiment’. High levels of methane have been detected on Mars by the Curiosity rover, which could indicate life on the Red Planet - but the team explains why they aren’t breaking out the champagne just yet. They then discuss the launch of Blue Origin’s New S...
2021-Jul-15 • 22 minutes
#76: Harm of race-based medicine; space tourism industry is go; America’s heatwave challenges
Race-based medical practises are being challenged more and more, as it becomes increasingly clear they have little basis in science. The team finds out why adjustments for race and ethnicity are still being made in medicine, despite the potential harm and healthcare implications they cause. It’s been a massive week for the future of space tourism - the team shares a clip of a very excited Richard Branson who’s recent journey into microgravity has set the stage for the launch of Virgin Galactic’s first comme...
2021-Jul-08 • 28 minutes
#75: Vaccine for kids; legacy of Dolly the sheep; how to repair the climate; China’s quantum advantage
In the UK, rules around attendance at schools after a covid outbreak are changing, but the country still hasn’t decided whether or not to vaccinate children. The team finds out what the hold up is, especially given some countries have already taken the leap. It’s been 25 years since the cloning of Dolly the sheep, so the team looks at Dolly’s legacy, exploring the many advancements and discoveries that have come as a result of this marvel of biological science. They then discuss the small matter of how to s...
2021-Jul-01 • 24 minutes
#74: ‘Dragon man’ could be new species of human; Wally Funk goes to space; human and financial cost of heatwave; how covid affects the brain
A unique kind of human skull has been discovered in China. The team describes the details of this skull, known as the ‘Dragon Man’, and explains how it might belong to a new species of human. And if that’s not exciting enough, its discovery has the most amazing Indiana Jones style backstory too. In breaking news, Jeff Bezos has announced that legendary aviator Wally Funk, one of the Mercury 13 women who trained as astronauts, will go to space with him on the first crewed Blue Origin mission. The team then d...
2021-Jun-24 • 31 minutes
#73: How to treat long covid; evolution of cooperation; Turing’s ACE computer; aliens watching Earth
The symptoms of long covid are diverse and numerous, and we’re still getting to grips with a clinical definition. Adam Vaughan visited the UK’s first long covid clinic, and explains how it provides both physical and psychological support to patients. The team then discusses the evolution of cooperation with professor Nichola Raihani, author of ‘The Social Instinct’, who explains why species collaborate, an act which seems to contradict the competitive nature of life in Darwin’s theory of natural selection. ...
2021-Jun-17 • 27 minutes
#72: The evil in all of us; delta variant of coronavirus; glacier memory project
The delta variant of covid-19 has torn across India, and is making its way around the globe, forcing the extension of lockdown measures in the UK. The team explores its spread, and also digs into findings showing that “elimination countries” - those which enacted swift and extreme lockdown measures - have fared better across the board in the health, wealth and even freedom of their populations. They then discuss the Ice Memory Project, which is archiving and preserving material and data from glaciers - anci...
2021-Jun-10 • 28 minutes
#71: Alzheimer’s treatment approved; human brain map breakthrough; time flowing backwards
For the first time in 18 years, a new drug for Alzheimer’s disease has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. This is big news because rather than just treating the symptoms, the drug targets the amyloid plaques that are thought to cause the disease. But the team explains why there are still many reasons to remain cautious. They also discuss an exciting breakthrough in our understanding of the brain, as Google researchers have, for the first time, mapped all the connections in one cubic milli...
2021-Jun-03 • 27 minutes
#70: Coronavirus origin story; Big Oil’s nightmare; history of the gender pain gap
From a bat… or from a lab? It seemed the question of where SARS-CoV-2 originated had been settled, but recently it's been reignited. Amid lots of conflicting and confusing news stories, the team explores what we really know about the origins of covid-19. They then mark a historic tipping point in climate news, as three of the world’s biggest fossil fuel companies are forced to work harder and faster to reduce their environmental impact. They also speak to Elinor Cleghorn, author of a new book called ‘U...
2021-May-27 • 26 minutes
#69: Coronavirus evolution; geoengineering and food supply; Alice Roberts on the revolution in archaeology
A new variant of coronavirus which originated in India is spreading rapidly. The team explains how both this new mutation and the UK variant are capable of evading vaccines, causing huge concerns for the global fight against covid-19. They also discuss whether the risks of solar geoengineering outweigh the benefits, as new research in the journal Nature Food looks at the potential impact on agricultural yields. They discuss a revolution taking place in archaeology as the discipline absorbs modern techniques...
2021-May-20 • 22 minutes
#68: Climate change and methane mystery; breathable liquid; covid vaccines
When it comes to climate change, carbon dioxide usually gets the spotlight, but methane, although shorter-lived in the atmosphere, is more potent as a greenhouse gas - and levels have been mysteriously increasing. The team explains where the methane is coming from and how efforts to curb methane emissions could be important in tackling global warming. They then explore the peculiar discovery that pigs can breathe oxygen through the anus, and what that means for future applications in space travel. In corona...
2021-May-13 • 28 minutes
#67: Brain plasticity; entropy and the nature of time; vaccine booster shots
Efforts to fight covid-19 won’t stop even when everyone is vaccinated. There’s a good chance we’ll need vaccine booster shots to keep on top of the disease. With Israel already planning to roll these out, and many other countries considering the same, the team explains what the booster shots will look like. They then explore the mind-melting discovery that simply by measuring time, humans are adding to the amount of entropy or disorder in the universe. They catch up with the neuroscientist David Eagleman wh...
2021-May-06 • 27 minutes
#66: Sea level rise; Bitcoin carbon pollution; how to measure self-awareness
The most detailed analysis yet of global warming and sea level rise has been published. The paper’s lead author, Tamsin Edwards of King’s College London, explains that we now have a better understanding of the consequences of missing the 1.5 degrees target of the Paris Agreement. Later the team gets introspective as they learn about metacognition, and how brain scanners are now able to measure self-awareness: learn how to boost your own self-awareness here. They discuss how the digital currency Bitcoin will...
2021-Apr-29 • 30 minutes
#65: Chernobyl radiation safety; Chinese space station; wisdom of trees
It’s been 35 years since the devastating explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. But new research shows there has been no increase in genetic mutations in people who worked to clean up the accident site, nor in their children. The team discusses communicating safety risks around radiation with the director of the Chernobyl Tissue Bank, Gerry Thomas. The team then talks about two stories in space exploration news, with another SpaceX launch to the ISS, and the start of the construction of a new Chine...
2021-Apr-22 • 31 minutes
#64: Earth Day rescue plan: climate change and biodiversity special
To mark Earth Day 2021, we’ve assembled a panel of experts to discuss climate change and biodiversity loss - “two runaway crises tightly interlinked that will mutually make each other’s effects worse”. New evidence shows 2021 really is a make-or-break year for the environment and the planet. In this episode the panel explores the disparity between our efforts to combat each issue, they explain how some attempts to help the environment can actually worsen the situation, and they discuss the limitations of ca...
2021-Apr-15 • 27 minutes
#63: Musical spider’s webs; magic mushrooms for treating depression; the sound of coronavirus
The vibrations of a spider’s web have been transformed into some spectacularly haunting pieces of music. The team shares the work of MIT researcher Markus Buehler, which gives us a glimpse into what life is like for a spider. The team then discusses new research suggesting psilocybin, the psychoactive component of magic mushrooms, might be an effective way of treating depression. The theme of sound continues as the team shares the work of molecular biologist and composer Mark Temple, who’s turned the geneti...
2021-Apr-08 • 29 minutes
#62: Synthetic life; rescue plan for Earth; muon g-2 new physics
Scientists tinkering around with the creation of synthetic life have taken a significant step forward. The team explains how synthetic cells could one day be implanted in humans. Alongside this is the news that researchers have used frog skin cells to create a microscopic living robot, which can heal and power itself. As levels of CO2 in the atmosphere reach a record high, the team looks at ways to join up global efforts in tackling both the climate and biodiversity emergencies. They discuss another challen...
2021-Apr-01 • 24 minutes
#61: Worse allergies; black hole in our backyard; new flavours of vanilla
Spring has sprung and… ACHOO!! Yep, hay fever is back with a vengeance. This week the team has some bad news for hay fever sufferers, as allergies are set to get worse (in every way imaginable) because of climate change. The team then ramps up the excitement with the news that there may be an ancient black hole sitting on the edge of our solar system, which might actually be within our reach! They discuss vanilla’s attempts to break free of its ‘boring’ stereotype, as growers begin to experiment with new an...
2021-Mar-26 • 26 minutes
#60: New physics; anti-ageing human embryos; Mars update
The Large Hadron Collider might, just might, have found something that challenges the Standard Model of particle physics. The team hears why an anomaly concerning a quark could hint at a crack in our understanding of physics. They also find out whether the age-defying, rejuvenating properties of human embryos can help us reset the ageing process in adults. As the Perseverance rover has been on Mars for a month now, there is of course more news from our neighbouring planet, namely new recordings from the sur...
2021-Mar-19 • 28 minutes
#59: Vaccine success; hibernation and anti-ageing; world’s first computer
We’re tantalisingly close to resuming normal life, as promising news from Israel has shown that vaccines are swinging the fight against covid-19 in our favour. But we’re not out of the woods yet - the team explains why it’s still too risky to completely lift restrictions. They also discuss great news if you love your beauty sleep! It turns out when marmots hibernate the ageing process slows down dramatically, which is going to be useful as we develop ways to put humans into hibernation. The pod also tackles...
2021-Mar-12 • 24 minutes
#58: Covid good news; cold water swimming; quantum unreality
This week: relief and joy for people in the US, with the news that those who’ve had two doses of vaccine will be allowed to meet up inside with friends and family. The team also discusses the exciting news about how the vaccine might help people with long covid. Things take a turn for the weird when the team explains just how little we know about reality, certainly from a quantum mechanical point of view - but Carlo Rovelli might have an answer. They also explore why cold water swimming is so good for us, t...
2021-Mar-05 • 29 minutes
#57: Moon base; Neanderthal speech; Elizabeth Kolbert on geoengineering
Ever looked up at the Moon and thought “I could live there”? Well… this week we hear how Chinese researchers have managed to make an almost completely self-sustaining base on Earth which could be replicated on the lunar surface. They’re also joined by Rebecca Wragg Sykes, the author of ‘Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art’, who explores new evidence suggesting the extinct humans may have had the power of language and speech. Pulitzer-prize winning environment reporter Elizabeth Kolbert also joins...
2021-Feb-26 • 25 minutes
#56: How to spend a trillion dollars; landing on Mars; exercise and metabolism myths
What could you do with a trillion dollars? Rowan Hooper tackles this question in his latest book which examines how the money could be used to safeguard the future of our planet. The team talks about raising cash through a tax on carbon, how much it would cost to protect all the world’s endangered species, and Elon Musk’s carbon capture and storage competition. Also on the show excitement mounts over NASA’s successful touchdown on Mars, as the team discusses Perseverance and its first full week in the Jezer...
2021-Feb-19 • 24 minutes
#55: Rescuing nature; Mars missions; new covid mutation
2021 could well go down in history as the year we saved our planet… the alternative really doesn’t bear thinking about. Luckily the team brings news of a “rescue plan for nature”, with several initiatives launching this year including the UN Decade of Ecological Restoration. NASA’s Mars lander Perseverance has successfully touched down on the Red Planet. The team discusses its goals, and shares the latest on the two craft which entered Mars’ orbit last week, China’s Tianwen-1 and the UAE’s Hope. The team hi...
2021-Feb-12 • 27 minutes
#54: Next-gen vaccines; alien space probes; ethics of fish
Whilst we’ve been celebrating the rollout of the covid-19 vaccines, new variants of the virus have thrown a spanner in the works, and there’s a concern over the lack of vaccine availability in low-income countries. The team explores these issues and highlights the exciting developments of both a nasal vaccine and (maybe) one which can be taken in pill form. Plus... Harvard astrophysicist Avi Loeb explains why he believes the interstellar object ‘Oumuamua could be a piece of alien technology, and tells us wh...
2021-Feb-05 • 27 minutes
#53: Pandemic burnout; vaccines for the world; sustainable fuel
By now most of us have felt or are feeling the effects of pandemic burnout. From unexplained exhaustion to emotional detachment and general uneasiness, the team explains why the pandemic is causing these feelings and offers tips on how to combat the problem. They also explain why it's critical we have a coordinated global strategy for the rollout of the covid-19 vaccine, so that poorer countries are not left without enough jabs to protect their citizens. As a growing number of countries set net zero ca...
2021-Jan-29 • 25 minutes
#52: Life after vaccination; gaslighting; mind reading
A year on from the launch of our podcast, the team reflects on the news highlighted in the first ever episode, of a small outbreak of an unknown virus in Wuhan - how life has changed. The good news is vaccination programmes are being rolled out across the globe, but the bad news is new models suggest infection rates will continue to rise, even after most of us have had the jab. The team also explores the issue of gaslighting, explaining how it’s possible for people to manipulate and exploit our perception o...
2021-Jan-22 • 27 minutes
#51: Covid evolution; new dinosaur; missing genome data
As we continue to discover new mutant variants of the covid-19 virus, the team looks at how these will impact vaccination efforts and discuss the long-term implications of virus evolution. They also bring exciting news of a new dinosaur discovery, a sauropod that is among the biggest animals of all time. And staying with dinos, they highlight the University of Bristol’s reconstruction of dinosaur genitalia. They also discuss genome sequencing, and the massive diversity gap in the world’s DNA databases. Ther...
2021-Jan-15 • 34 minutes
#50: Covid vaccine dosing; superconductors; coral restoration
The coronavirus vaccines that have been approved so far all require two doses to be given 3-4 weeks apart. But the UK has chosen to delay the time between doses to 12 weeks, so it can roll out the vaccine to more people more quickly. This week the team examines whether this is the right move, and whether it’s safe. Also on the show, they explore the incredible potential that could be achieved if we’re able to design a superconductor that can operate at room temperature, including high speed travel, super-fa...
2021-Jan-08 • 26 minutes
#49: New coronavirus variants
Two fast-spreading variants of coronavirus have been discovered in the UK and South Africa. With case numbers soaring, it’s feared these variants could lead to a massive wave of new infections around the world. The team examines why the mutations allow the virus to spread more quickly, what this means for the effectiveness of covid vaccines, and whether these new variants are more deadly. Also on the show, we explore the health benefits of going low-carb, and explain why high-fat diets might not be as bad f...
2021-Jan-01 • 29 minutes
#48: Must-know science of 2021
Happy New Year! This special episode previews some of the biggest science stories to keep an eye on over the coming year. Coronavirus, the story that’s defined our lives for the past year, will continue to evolve and unfold. The team digs into what life will look like as vaccinations eventually allow us to come out the other side of the pandemic. There are also several missions to Mars to look out for this year - the UAE’s orbiter Hope, NASA’s Perseverance rover, and China’s Tianwen-1 mission. The team also...
2020-Dec-18 • 29 minutes
#47: Christmas special quiz of the year
2020 has been unconventional to say the least, and this Christmas special is full of much needed hope, optimism and laughter. The team brings you highlights from this week’s live holiday event which you can watch in full here. Categories include the ‘funniest story of the year’, featuring the recreated groans of mummies and a sobering up machine; we award prizes for ‘animal story of the year’ and ‘evidence-based survival tips for 2021’. There’s also a music round, a look at this year’s moments of greatest h...
2020-Dec-11 • 28 minutes
#46: Stardust hunting, the illusion of the self, space rocks return to Earth
One hundred tonnes of cosmic dirt rains down on us every day, so there’s a good chance you have a meteorite on your roof... well, a micrometeorite. The team explains how you can find one yourself, and explore the surprise link with Norwegian jazz musician Jon Larsen. They also question whether you really exist, or at least the version of you that you recognise to be yourself. There’s also more news of space rocks coming to Earth, but this time returning from the super speedy Chang’e 5 moon mission, and from...
2020-Dec-04 • 34 minutes
#45: Vaccine roll out in UK and China; Chris Packham on connectedness; AlphaFold breakthrough
With the UK becoming the first country in the world to approve the roll out of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the team discusses issues around safety, effectiveness in older people, and who gets it first. They also discuss coronavirus in China and the country’s own vaccination programme, as well as Australia’s remarkable return to normal life. The naturalist and broadcaster Chris Packham makes a guest appearance to discuss global connectivity, the food we eat, Brazil, deforestation and the Cerrado. The team a...
2020-Nov-27 • 36 minutes
#44: When we’ll get the vaccine; fast-expanding universe; lunar missions
Vaccine scientist Katrina Pollock answers some of the biggest questions about covid-19 vaccines: when are we going to get one, and when will life go back to normal? A clinician at Imperial College London, Katrina is working on both the Imperial mRNA vaccine trials, and the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine trials. She discusses vaccine safety, and the finding in trials that a low-dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine caused a bigger immune response. Also on the podcast, science writer Stuart Clark explains why the unusu...
2020-Nov-20 • 30 minutes
#43: How the covid RNA vaccine works; systemic racism; origin of humans
Even as covid-19 cases keep going up, we’ve had some good news about possible vaccines for coronavirus. Two of the promising vaccines are mRNA vaccines, and on this week’s show Anna Blakney, an RNA bioengineer at Imperial College London, explains all about this new technology. Also on the podcast: we highlight research into systemic racism and the role it plays in socioeconomic disparity, healthcare outcomes, and even technology. We explore the controversy around the species thought to be the earliest membe...
2020-Nov-13 • 28 minutes
#42: Vaccine for covid-19; origin of animals; overpopulation
There are exciting results in trials of two coronavirus vaccines. But just how excited should we be? We discuss the latest findings, the strength of these potential vaccines, and how likely it is they’ll be rolled out before the end of the year. Also on the show, the team discusses the controversial issue of overpopulation, debates which animal group was the first to evolve on Earth, examines the female-led mating habits of mongoose, and explores new possibilities for space gardening. On the pod this week a...
2020-Nov-06 • 26 minutes
#41: The function of dreams
On this week’s election-distraction special, we hear about a new hypothesis which could explain an age-old mystery. Dreams could be a way of freeing our brains from the limits of normal life. Also on the pod, the team discusses the discovery of the source of a fast radio burst, sent out by a neutron star in our galaxy. They also explore a method to create a temporary vaccine for covid-19, until a long-term solution is found. Also on the agenda: the news that octopuses taste with their arms, and an ancient s...
2020-Oct-30 • 29 minutes
#40: Halloween special: real-life vampires, the science of ghosts, deep-sea zombies, monster black holes
What price would you pay for eternal youth? Some real-life vampires in California took part in a trial where they infused themselves with the blood plasma of young people, in an attempt to rejuvenate their brains and extend their lives.For this Halloween special we gathered journalists from the dungeons at New Scientist towers: Rowan Hooper, Cat de Lange, Beth Ackerley, Sam Wong, Layal Liverpool, Leah Crane and Chelsea Whyte.The team get their teeth stuck into the vampire experiments in Silicon Valley, and ...
2020-Oct-22 • 28 minutes
#39: Social lives of viruses; CRISPR to fight antibiotic resistance; dealing with risk; George RR Martin and the moon
When we think about the way a virus operates, we tend to think of it as a lone assassin. But it turns out viruses have surprisingly rich social lives - perhaps richer than many human social lives at the moment. In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O'Callaghan and Graham Lawton.The team sets out to change the way we see viruses, by explaining how different viruses cooperate to improve their chances of spreading - and how this understanding can help in the fight agains...
2020-Oct-15 • 33 minutes
#38: Tackling the climate crisis; essential, like, filler words of, um, language; mystery of the human penis; your covid questions answered
2020 was meant to be a pivotal year in the fight against climate change, but a rather pressing issue has knocked us off course. But there are still ways that the covid-19 crisis could trigger the changes we need to see.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O'Callaghan and Adam Vaughan, and science writer David Robson.The team discusses how the pandemic response has shown us possible routes to tackling climate change - particularly if working from home becomes a lastin...
2020-Oct-08 • 31 minutes
#37: Black holes and CRISPR gene editing spring Nobel surprises; climate change and indigenous people in the Arctic; symptom clusters identified for covid-19
This year’s Nobel prize season has been the most thrilling in ages. Not only are we celebrating fascinating scientific breakthroughs, but this is also only the fourth time a woman has won a physics prize in 117 years.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Cat de Lange and Tim Revell.The team chats about the physics and chemistry Nobel prizes, awarded for work on black holes and CRISPR gene editing. CRISPR is on the agenda twice as the team discusses the creation of a new type of ge...
2020-Oct-01 • 33 minutes
#36: Hunt for life on Venus and Mars; how the paleo diet affects your age; strategy for the second wave of coronavirus; species extinction crisis
Hopes of discovering life on Venus have been dampened somewhat as the sheer scale of the task becomes clear. But don’t get in a slump just yet, because Mars has come out fighting...In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Cat de Lange, Leah Crane and Graham Lawton.The team explains how scientists have confirmed the existence of a huge underground lake of liquid water on Mars. Surrounded by smaller ponds, this news has reinvigorated those eager to find signs of alien life on the Red P...
2020-Sep-24 • 33 minutes
#35: The first woman on the moon; evolution special; purpose of sleep and dreams; deep water mystery
We’ve all wondered why we dream, or even why we sleep. We know it’s good for you, but we don’t really know what’s going on in the brain while you’re tucked up under the covers.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Valerie Jamieson, Leah Crane and Jess Hamzelou.The team discusses a study that shows sleep functions differently depending on our age, particularly when babies develop into toddlers, and the purpose of sleep shifts from growing and developing their brains, to repairing t...
2020-Sep-17 • 33 minutes
#34: Race to find life on Venus; coronavirus claims lives of 1 million people; extinction crisis; how the brain slows time
Move over Mars - Venus might actually be the best place to find alien life in our solar system. Phosphine, a molecule that on Earth is only created by bacteria or by industrial processes has been found in the planet’s clouds. Could it really be a new lifeform?In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Valerie Jamieson, Leah Crane and Adam Vaughan.The team discusses the thrilling discovery of phosphine on Venus and how the spacecraft BepiColombo will soon try to confirm this news. If it...
2020-Sep-10 • 31 minutes
#33: The healthy-eating revolution; China’s cosmic ambitions; Russia’s pursuit of gene-editing technology; the world’s greatest mammal
If you’ve longed for the day when scientists announce pizza is actually good for you, you *may* be in luck. It turns out there’s no such thing as a universally wholesome diet - what’s healthy for one person might be harmful for the next.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Valerie Jamieson and Graham Lawton.The team discusses the advent of a healthy eating revolution. “Precision nutrition” aims to measure the metabolic response of individuals to certain types of food, to figure ...
2020-Sep-03 • 34 minutes
#32: Billionaire plan to geoengineer the planet; how the moon affects your health; Neuralink’s telepathic pigs
If we’re not going to make the effort to cut carbon emissions, why don’t we manipulate Earth’s climate, forcing it to cool down? Obviously that’s not ideal - but geoengineering, one the most controversial proposals to combat climate change, is back in the spotlight this week.In the pod are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Valerie Jamieson and Cat de Lange. They’re joined by best-selling author and former New Scientist editor Jo Marchant. Silicon Valley billionaires have been linked with a new method ...
2020-Aug-27 • 24 minutes
#31: Widening the search for alien life on habitable planets; why unconscious bias training might not work; the microbiome of cancer tumours
The universe is so large, so expansive, it’s hard to believe that life doesn’t exist elsewhere. Over the years we’ve found a handful of planets that look like they could host life, but now the net’s being cast wider than ever before.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Valerie Jamieson, Clare Wilson and Tim Revell. They explain how our definition of a ‘habitable planet’ might be too narrow - that a planet might not need to sit in the Goldilocks zone to sustain life - opening up the possibility...
2020-Aug-20 • 30 minutes
#30: Redefining time; why mindfulness can cause problems; secrets of super-resilient tardigrades
Our measurement of time isn’t up to scratch. We can’t define a second or an hour or even a day by referring to the length of time it takes the Earth to spin on its axis, because that duration isn’t constant. But even caesium atomic clocks, with an accuracy of 1 second in 100 million years, are no longer accurate enough. Time needs a new definition.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Valerie Jamieson and Clare Wilson. They discuss a new, more precise way of defining a second, a m...
2020-Aug-13 • 31 minutes
#29: Loneliness during lockdown; medical artificial intelligence beats doctors; who gets the coronavirus vaccine first
By now we’re all feeling the effects of video call fatigue. Even though we’ve found new ways to connect with each other virtually during lockdown, remote conversation can’t replace the benefits of real, face-to-face social interactions.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Valerie Jamieson and Graham Lawton. They discuss the serious negative effects of social isolation on health and general well-being. People need shared experiences and physical connections to stay healthy, and it...
2020-Aug-06 • 34 minutes
#28: Origin of life on Earth; second wave of coronavirus; science of miscarriage
How did life spring up on planet Earth? What happened to turn sterile, lifeless rock into cells that could harness energy, grow and reproduce?In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Valerie Jamieson, Adam Vaughan and Alice Klein. They discuss the origin of life itself, and how we need a rethink of the processes that form life. Scientists are attempting to make a proto-living cell self-assemble and operate without the biochemical machinery it would usually need. The team also discuss...
2020-Jul-30 • 30 minutes
#27: Putting plastic back on the agenda; revisiting the iconic black hole image, how dinosaurs dominated the planet
With the threat of coronavirus taking centre stage in all our minds, has the issue of plastic waste taken a backseat - has the public lost interest?In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Valerie Jamieson, Graham Lawton and Adam Vaughan. They discuss a new study exploring ways to fix our ever-increasing problem of plastic pollution, which is being especially compounded by many of the world’s new hygiene measures and the dumping of thousands of tonnes of PPE. As different parts of the world look t...
2020-Jul-23 • 28 minutes
#26: The hidden dark matter of our food; NASA’s new search for life on Mars; smallpox in the American civil war
What’s in our food? By now you’d think we’d have a pretty firm handle on that question, but it turns out we don’t know the half of it.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Valerie Jamieson and Graham Lawton. They discuss what’s been called nutritional dark matter: the massive void in our understanding of the biochemicals that make up the food we eat. Our standard guidelines neglect to take into account thousands of molecules and compounds, which might explain why nutritional recom...
2020-Jul-16 • 32 minutes
#25: Coronavirus effects on children, and on other diseases; changing the way you sit could add years to your life; supercrops for a climate-changed world
Contracting covid-19 isn’t the only thing that’s making coronavirus deadly - the outbreak could lead to a jump in the number of deaths from diseases like tuberculosis, malaria and HIV. With healthcare systems at capacity, issues with drug supply chains, and with people unwilling to visit hospitals, the knock-on effects could be devastating.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Cat de Lange, and Adam Vaughan. Bringing you the latest news about the pandemic, the team also hear about...
2020-Jul-09 • 32 minutes
#24: Half a year in a world of covid-19; meat production breaking Earth’s nitrogen limits; what does gravity weigh?
It’s been half a year since coronavirus and covid-19 emerged and the world dramatically changed. Our understanding of the virus and the disease has also hugely changed in those six months, and it’s time to take stock on our understanding of how it spreads, its symptoms and how to tackle it.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Valerie Jamieson and Cat de Lange. They explore the various methods being used in the fight against coronavirus, why some countries have seen second waves w...
2020-Jul-02 • 33 minutes
#23: Coronavirus immunity and vaccine implications; evolutionary reasons for the types of world leader; treating people with CRISPR gene editing
Coronaviruses don’t usually produce a strong “immune memory”, and that has been worrying scientists, because it spells trouble for long-term immunity and the development of a vaccine. But, thankfully, the coronavirus that causes covid-19 doesn’t seem to be typical.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet and Graham Lawton. They explore new research that suggests people are developing immunity to the disease.The team also discusses how CRISPR gene editing has been used t...
2020-Jun-26 • 25 minutes
#22: Consciousness from the body as well as the brain; record temperatures in the Arctic; long-term symptoms of covid-19
If your brain was put in a vat and supplied with food and oxygen, would it be able to think? Would it be you? For much of the 20th century, people assumed the answer to this thought experiment was yes. But there is growing evidence suggesting the brain needs the body to work properly, and even to create consciousness. In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet and Catherine de Lange. They discuss whether artificial consciousness in a robot or computer is even possible if ...
2020-Jun-19 • 28 minutes
#21: How to prevent future pandemics, black lives matter and racism in science, suspended animation
There are now more than 8 million confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide, and at least 450,000 deaths. Given the lack of preparation for this pandemic, it’s clear that we need to start preparing for the next one. One glimmer of light is that an existing drug has been found that reduces the mortality of covid-19.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Graham Lawton and Layal Liverpool. They discuss the politics of the response to the pandemic and the problems we need...
2020-Jun-12 • 29 minutes
#20: Human cryptic mate choice, cracking nuclear fusion, countering coronavirus misinformation
Scientists have discovered a fascinating new way that women might choose between men to father their babies - and the choice may happen after having sex. It turns out that a woman’s egg can itself choose between the sperm of different men - and the egg may not always agree with the woman’s choice of partner.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Donna Lu and Valerie Jamieson. They discuss how a form of mate choice seen in many kinds of insects and other animals has n...
2020-Jun-05 • 29 minutes
#19: How the UK got it wrong on coronavirus, mystery around chronic Lyme, Greta Thunberg’s musical debut
The UK now has the highest number of covid-19 deaths in Europe, and worldwide, the total number of confirmed covid-19 deaths is second only to the US. So how did the UK get it so wrong? We discuss why slowness to get testing seems to have been a real problem, and if it is even possible to vaccinate against covid-19. In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, and Adam Vaughan. They delve into the ethics of vaccine development, and why hopes of seeing one in September are ...
2020-May-29 • 26 minutes
#18: Bending the curve on climate change, the era of commercial space travel, staying safe from coronavirus
The coronavirus pandemic is a human disaster that is dominating the news right now, but climate change is going to be worse and longer-lasting. The two crises may seem to be completely separate, but there are parallels that can be drawn between the two in our reaction and response to them, our ability to change behaviour and the possibility of bending the curve of their impact.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, and Graham Lawton. They discuss the views of the chi...
2020-May-22 • 30 minutes
#17: The truth about our appetites, the impact of coronavirus on conservation, mud volcanoes on Mars
Rather than simply eating until we are full, humans selectively try to eat the right amounts of three macronutrients – protein, carbs and fat – plus two micronutrients, sodium and calcium. It turns out we have five separate appetites that drive us to eat the right amount of each.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, and Graham Lawton. They discuss an evolutionary explanation for the obesity epidemic: the fact humans will gorge on carbohydrates to try and get enough ...
2020-May-15 • 26 minutes
#16: Hints of a new force of nature; making mice with human cells; seaweed in the fight against climate change
There are four fundamental forces that describe how everything works, from black holes to radioactive decay to sounds coming out of your headphones. But this week we discuss hints that there is a fifth fundamental force of nature.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, and Valerie Jamieson. They ask whether physics is in crisis, given that it struggles to explain 95% of the universe, or if physicists are happy, because there is so much still to discover. The team also...
2020-May-08 • 29 minutes
#15: Mystery of radio signals from deep space; the future of music; epidemic of bad coronavirus science
MIDI, the digital encoding technology that revolutionised music production in the 1980s, is getting an upgrade. We explore how MIDI 2.0 will change not only how music is made, but how sounds are produced in movies. We discuss the history and future of sound, using Nancy Sinatra, Radiohead and pioneering electronic musician Aphex Twin as examples. In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Valerie Jamieson and Bethan Ackerley. They discuss the infodemic of bad science sur...
2020-May-01 • 32 minutes
#14: Dreams, sleep and coronavirus, a new explanation of consciousness, brain-stimulation anorexia treatment
Is the coronavirus crisis giving you bad dreams? Anxiety and stress about covid-19 has changed our sleeping patterns and the tone of our dreams. But rest assured, bad dreams and nightmares are just a sign of the brain doing its job. In this episode, special guest Matthew Walker, professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California and best-selling author of ‘Why We Sleep’, shares top tips for sleeping well, and gives advice for people experiencing bad dreams. In the pod this week are New...
2020-Apr-24 • 29 minutes
#13: Evidence for a parallel universe, protecting mental health in lockdown, why covid-19 hits men harder
We might have the first evidence for the mind-blowing idea that there is a parallel universe to our own, an antimatter universe which is mirror-flipped and travelling backwards in time.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Cat de Lange and Gilead Amit. They discuss the tantalising clues suggesting there might be a weird parallel universe created with ours, and speculate as to what this might mean.They also explore how you can protect your mental health during the co...
2020-Apr-17 • 22 minutes
#12: Strength training for better health, bats mimic sound, biggest ever supernova
While much of the world is still on lockdown and with global cases of coronavirus now over two million, one positive thing that’s come out of this crisis is that we’re paying more attention to our physical fitness. In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet and Cat de Lange. They discuss the latest UK and US government advice on fitness that emphasises how muscle strengthening is just as important as aerobic activity, and how you can do this kind of exercise even in a con...
2020-Apr-10 • 31 minutes
#11: Covid World, coronavirus in New York, invasion of parakeets, bacteria and their amazing powers
The United States now accounts for one-fifth of all new coronavirus cases globally, with New York at the epicentre with over 150,000 cases. In this episode, special guest Dr Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shares his thoughts from New York on how to reduce the risk to healthcare workers, why until we find a vaccine we are living in a ‘Covid World’, and on how the world can come out of this crisis a safer place. In the pod this week are New Scientist journalist...
2020-Apr-03 • 25 minutes
#10: Coronavirus questions answered, revolution in human evolution, mind-reading computers
There’s still so much uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, from the symptoms and spreadability to matters like how long you should self-isolate. In this episode, we attempt to answer some of the most pressing questions about COVID-19. In the pod for this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet and Graham Lawton. Also, the poet laureate Simon Armitage reads a poem written in response to the coronavirus crisis, called Lockdown. We discuss when you are likely to be at the peak of infection,...
2020-Mar-27 • 34 minutes
#9: Coronavirus lockdown – how to flatten the curve, reset the immune system, and the world’s most hardcore mammal
The UK government says they are going to distribute millions of covid-19 coronavirus testing kits in the next few days, but how effective will these be and is it too late now to flatten the curve of increasing infections? In the pod for this week’s episode are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet and Graham Lawton. The team is joined by epidemiologist Christl Donnelly from Imperial College London. Christl is associate director of the MRC centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, which ...
2020-Mar-20 • 35 minutes
#8: Coronavirus special – disaster preparation, environmental change and disease emergence; plus science round-up
The actions taken now by countries and governments globally is crucial in limiting the impact of the covid-19 coronavirus - but has the response been strong enough? In the pod for this week’s episode are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet and Graham Lawton. The team is joined by two experts from University College London: professor of risk and disaster reduction David Alexander, and professor of ecology and biodiversity Kate Jones. The panel explores just how prepared we are for this glob...
2020-Mar-13 • 26 minutes
#7: Coronavirus vaccine, neutrinos in the early universe, and organ transplants
Everyone wants a coronavirus vaccine as soon as possible - but what is involved, and how long will it take? On the panel for this week’s episode are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Jacob Aron and Clare Wilson. The team is joined by Katrina Pollock, a vaccine scientist from Imperial College London, who explains the work that needs to be done before we have a safe and effective vaccine for covid-19. Also on the show is the surprising finding that subatomic and ghostly neutrinos may have...
2020-Mar-06 • 33 minutes
#6: Coronavirus special - the spread of covid-19, fatality rates, and the importance of hand washing
Governments globally are taking serious measures to halt the spread of the covid-19 coronavirus, from shutting schools to cancelling major events. On the panel for this special episode dedicated to the disease are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet and Donna Lu. The team is joined by Adam Kucharski, associate professor in epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Adam answers questions on the biology of the disease, what the true fatality rates are, and when the ...
2020-Feb-28 • 27 minutes
#5: Pandemic preparations, mind-reading – and a trillion trees
As the covid-19 coronavirus spreads around the globe, we’ve been warned to prepare for a pandemic. On the panel this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Jacob Aron and Clare Wilson. The team answers questions from you about the coronavirus outbreak, shares news of a technique being used to read the minds of people with brain injuries who aren’t otherwise able to communicate, and discusses the pros and cons of an initiative to plant a trillion trees to combat climate change. To fi...
2020-Feb-21 • 29 minutes
#4: Lab-grown meat, Neanderthal burials, and space tourism
Would you eat lab-grown meat? The guilt-free, environmentally friendly animal alternative will be hitting our shelves this year. On the panel for this week’s episode are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Donna Lu and Graham Lawton. The team explains how a company in Singapore called Shiok Meats is due to launch a range of lab-cultured shrimp meat, explores the possibility that Neanderthals may have buried their dead*, and discusses how SpaceX is launching the new age of space tourism. T...
2020-Feb-14 • 27 minutes
#3: Coronavirus latest, a woman with half a brain, and love drugs
Just when we thought we were seeing a decline in the number of Wuhan coronavirus cases, there has been a sharp uptick in reported deaths. On the panel for this week’s episode are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Donna Lu, Jess Hamzelou and Lilian Anekwe. The team brings you the latest news on the spread of the disease, now known as covid-19, explore the story of a woman with above average language skills despite being born with only half of her brain, and – just in time for Valentine’s...
2020-Feb-07 • 23 minutes
#2: Weird quantum experiment, origin of the alphabet, and coronavirus developments
Being in two different places at once — it's one of the deeply weird things that happens in the quantum realm. On the panel for this week’s episode are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Donna Lu and Jacob Aron. The team begins by discussing a super-cool experiment that hopes to demonstrate quantum physics by placing a solid object in two places at once. They also explore revelations about the ancient origins of the alphabet, and examine a report from Wuhan City on the coronavirus o...
2020-Jan-31 • 26 minutes
#1: Wuhan coronavirus, nuclear fusion, and the Solar Orbiter spacecraft
It’s a rapidly spreading outbreak with the potential to become a full blown pandemic – but just how concerned should we be about the global impact of Wuhan coronavirus? On the panel for the inaugural episode of the podcast are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Adam Vaughan and Jacob Aron. As well as answering your questions on the continuing spread of the coronavirus, the team explore the news that scientists are nearly ready to recreate nuclear fusion, the process that powers the Sun. ...