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Science Magazine Podcast

Science Magazine Podcast

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

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An oasis of biodiversity a Mexican desert, and making sound from heat

First up this week, News Intern Rodrigo Pérez-Ortega talks with host Meagan Cantwell about an oasis of biodiversity in the striking blue pools of Cuatro Ciénegas, a basin in northern Mexico. Researchers have published dozens of papers exploring the unique microorganisms that thrive in this area, while at the same time fighting large agricultural industries draining the precious water from the pools. David Tatnell, a postgraduate researcher at the University of Exeter, talks with host Sarah Crespi about using heat to make sound, a phenomenon known as thermoacoustics. Just like the sound of fire or thunder, sudden changes in temperature can create sound waves. In his team?s paper in Science Advances, Tatnell and colleagues describe a thermoacoustic speaker that uses thin, heated films to make sound. This approach cuts out the crosstalk seen in mechanical speakers and allows for extreme miniaturization of sound production. In the ultrasound range, arrays of thermoacoustic speakers could improve acoustic levitation and ultrasound imaging. In the hearing range, the speakers could be made extremely small, flexible, and even transparent. This week?s episode was produced with help from Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF) [Image: David Jaramillo; Music: Jeffrey Cook]
2020-07-02
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Stopping the spread of COVID-19, and arctic adaptations in sled dogs

Kimberly Prather, an atmospheric chemist at the University of California, San Diego, who studies how ocean waves disperse virus-laden aerosols, joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about how she became an outspoken advocate for using masks to prevent coronavirus transmission. A related insight she wrote for Science has been downloaded more than 1 million times. Read Science?s coronavirus coverage. Mikkel Sinding, a postdoctoral fellow at Trinity College Dublin, talks sled dog genes with Sarah. After comparing the genomes of modern dogs, Greenland sled dogs, and an ancient dog jaw bone found on a remote Siberian island where dogs may have pulled sleds some 9500 years ago, they found that modern Greenland dogs?which are still used to pull sleds today?have much in common with this ancient Siberian ancestor. Those similarities include genes related to eating high-fat diets and cold-sensing genes previously identified in woolly mammoths. In this month?s book segment, Kiki Sanford talks with Rutger Bregman about his book, Humankind: A Hopeful History, which outlines a shift in the thinking of many social scientists to a view of humans as more peaceful than warlike. This week?s episode was produced with help from Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF).
2020-06-25
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Coronavirus spreads financial turmoil to universities, and a drone that fights mosquito-borne illnesses

Senior Correspondent Jeffrey Mervis joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about how universities are dealing with the financial crunch brought on by the coronavirus. Jeff discusses how big research universities are balancing their budgets as federal grants continue to flow, but endowments are down and so is the promise of state funding. Read all our coronavirus coverage. Mosquito-borne infections like Zika, dengue, malaria, and chikungunya cause millions of deaths each year. Nicole Culbert and colleges write this week in Science Robotics about a new way to deal with deadly mosquitoes?using drones. The drones are designed to drop hundreds of thousands of sterile male mosquitoes in areas with high risk of mosquito-borne illness. The idea is that sterile male mosquitoes will mate with females and the females then lay infertile eggs, which causes the population to decline. They found this drone-based approach is cheaper and more efficient than other methods of releasing sterile mosquitoes and does not have the problems associated with pesticide-based eradication efforts such as resistance and off-target effects. This week?s episode was produced with help from Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF).
2020-06-18
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The facts on COVID-19 contact tracing apps, and benefits of returning sea otters to the wild

Staff Writer Kelly Servick joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about the ins and outs of coronavirus contact tracing apps?what they do, how they work, and how to calculate whether they are crushing the curve. Read all our coronavirus coverage. Edward Gregr, a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, talks with Sarah about the controversial reintroduction of sea otters to the Northern Pacific Ocean?their home for centuries, before the fur trade nearly wiped out the apex predator in the late 1800s. Gregr brings a unique cost-benefit perspective to his analysis, and finds many trade-offs with economic implications for fisheries For example, sea otters eat shellfish like urchins and crabs, depressing the shellfishing industry; but their diet encourages the growth of kelp forests, which in turn provide a habitat for economically important finfish, like salmon and rockfish. Read a related commentary article. This week?s episode was produced with help from Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF).
2020-06-11
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Why men may have more severe COVID-19 symptoms, and using bacteria to track contaminated food

First up this week, Staff Writer Meredith Wadman talks with host Sarah Crespi about how male sex hormones may play a role in higher levels of severe coronavirus infections in men. New support for this idea comes from a study showing high levels of male pattern baldness in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Read all our coronavirus coverage. Next, Jason Qian, a Ph.D. student in the systems biology department at Harvard Medical School, joins Sarah to talk about an object-tracking system that uses bacterial spores engineered with unique DNA barcodes. The inactivated spores can be sprayed on anything from lettuce, to wood, to sand and later be scraped off and read out using a CRISPR-based detection system. Spraying these DNA-based identifiers on such things as vegetables could help trace foodborne illnesses back to their source. Read a related commentary piece.  This week?s episode was produced with help from Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF).
2020-06-04
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A rare condition associated with coronavirus in children, and tracing glaciers by looking at the ocean floor

First up this week, Staff Writer Jennifer Couzin-Frankel talks with host Sarah Crespi about a rare inflammatory response in children that has appeared in a number of COVID-19 hot spots. Next, Julian Dowdeswell, director of the Scott Polar Research Institute and professor of physical geography at the University of Cambridge, talks with producer Meagan Cantwell about tracing the retreat of Antarctica's glaciers by examining the ocean floor. Finally, Kiki Sanford interviews author Danny Dorling about his new book, Slowdown: The End of the Great Acceleration?and Why It?s Good for the Planet, the Economy, and Our Lives. This week?s episode was produced with help from Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF).
2020-05-28
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How scientists are thinking about reopening labs, and the global threat of arsenic in drinking water

Online News Editor David Grimm talks with producer Joel Goldberg about the unique challenges of reopening labs amid the coronavirus pandemic. Though the chance to resume research may instill a sense of hope, new policies around physical distancing and access to facilities threaten to derail studies?and even careers. Despite all the uncertainty, the crisis could result in new approaches that ultimately benefit the scientific community and the world. Also this week, Joel Podgorski, a senior scientist in the Water Resources and Drinking Water Department at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss the global threat of arsenic in drinking water. Arsenic is basically present in all rocks in minute amounts. Under the right conditions it can leach into groundwater and poison drinking water. Without a noticeable taste or smell, arsenic contamination can go undetected for years. The paper, published in Science, estimates that more than 100 million people are at risk of drinking arsenic-contaminated water and provides a guide for the most important places to test. This week?s episode was produced with help from Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF).
2020-05-21
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How past pandemics reinforced inequality, and millions of mysterious quakes beneath a volcano

Contributing Correspondent Lizzie Wade talks with host Sarah Crespi about the role of inequality in past pandemics. Evidence from medical records and cemeteries suggests diseases like the 1918 flu, smallpox, and even the Black Death weren?t indiscriminately killing people?instead these infections caused more deaths in those with less money or status. Also this week, Aaron Wech, a research geophysicist for the U.S. Geological Survey at the Alaska Volcano Observatory, joins Sarah to talk about recordings of more than 1 million earthquakes from deep under Hawaii?s Mauna Kea volcano, which hasn?t erupted in 4500 years. They discuss how these earthquakes, which have repeated every 7 to 12 minutes for at least 20 years, went undetected for so long. This week?s episode was produced with help from Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF).
2020-05-14
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Making antibodies to treat coronavirus, and why planting trees won?t save the planet

Staff Writer Jon Cohen joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about using monoclonal antibodies to treat or prevent infection by SARS-CoV-2. Many companies and researchers are rushing to design and test this type of treatment, which proved effective in combating Ebola last year. See all of our News coverage of the pandemic here, and all of our Research and Editorials here. And Karen Holl, a professor of environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, joins Sarah to discuss the proper planning of tree-planting campaigns. It turns out that just putting a tree in the ground is not enough to stop climate change and reforest the planet. This week?s episode was produced with help from Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF).
2020-05-07
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Blood test for multiple cancers studied in 10,000 women, and is our Sun boring?

Staff Writer Jocelyn Kaiser joins Sarah to talk about a recent Science paper describing the results of a large study on a blood test for multiple types of cancer. The trial?s results suggest such a blood test combined with follow-up scans may help detect cancers early, but there is a danger of too many false positives. And postdoctoral researcher Timo Reinhold of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research joins Sarah to talk about his paper on how the Sun is a lot less variable in its magnetic activity compared with similar stars?what does it mean that our Sun is a little bit boring? This week?s episode was produced with help from Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF).
2020-04-30
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From nose to toes?how coronavirus affects the body, and a quantum microscope that unlocks the magnetic secrets of very old rocks

Coronavirus affects far more than just the lungs, and doctors and researchers in the midst of the pandemic are trying to catalog?and understand?the virus? impact on our bodies. Staff Writer Meredith Wadman joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss what we know about how COVID-19 kills. See all of our News coverage of the pandemic here, and all of our Research and Editorials here. Also this week, Staff Writer Paul Voosen talks with Sarah about quantum diamond microscopes. These new devices are able to detect minute traces of magnetism, giving insight into the earliest movements of Earth?s tectonic plates and even ancient paleomagnetic events in space. This week?s episode was produced with help from Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF).
2020-04-23
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How countries could recover from coronavirus, and lessons from an ancient drought

Contributing Correspondent Kai Kupferschmidt talks with host Sarah Crespi about countries planning a comeback from a coronavirus crisis. What can they do once cases have slowed down to go back to some sort of normal without a second wave of infection? See all of our News coverage of the pandemic here. See all of our Research and Editorials here. As part of a drought special issue of Science, Contributing Correspondent Lizzie Wade joins Sarah to talk about water management and the downfall of the ancient Wari state. Sometimes called the first South American empire, the Wari culture successfully expanded throughout the Peruvian Andes 1400 years ago. Also this week, Yon Visell of the University of California, Santa Barbara, talks with Sarah about his Science Advances paper on the biomechanics of human hands. Our skin?s ability to propagate waves along the surface of the hand may help us sense the world around us. This week?s episode was produced with help from Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF).
2020-04-16
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Does coronavirus spread through the air, and the biology of anorexia

On this week?s show, Staff Writer Robert Service talks with host Sarah Crespi about a new National Academy of Sciences report that suggests the novel coronavirus can go airborne, the evidence for this idea, and what this means for the mask-wearing debate. See all of our News coverage of the pandemic here. See all of our Research and Editorials here. Also this week, Staff Writer Jennifer Couzin-Frankel joins Sarah to talk about a burgeoning understanding of the biological roots of anorexia nervosa?an eating disorder that affects about 1% of people in the United States. From genetic links to brain scans, scientists are finding a lot more biology behind what was once thought of as a culturally driven disorder. This week?s episode was produced with help from Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF).
2020-04-09
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How COVID-19 disease models shape shutdowns, and detecting emotions in mice

On this week?s show, Contributing Correspondent Kai Kupferschmidt talks with host Sarah Crespi about modeling coronavirus spread and the role of forecasts in national lockdowns and other pandemic policies. They also talk about the launch of a global trial of promising treatments. See all of our News coverage of the pandemic here. See all of our Research and Editorials here. Also this week, Nadine Gogolla, research group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, talks with Sarah about linking the facial expressions of mice to their emotional states using machine learning. This week?s episode was produced with help from Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF)
2020-04-02
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Why some diseases come and go with the seasons, and how to develop smarter, safer chemicals

On this week?s show, host Joel Goldberg gets an update on the coronavirus pandemic from Senior Correspondent Jon Cohen. In addition, Cohen gives a rundown of his latest feature, which highlights the relationship between diseases and changing seasons?and how this relationship relates to a potential coronavirus vaccine. Also this week, from a recording made at this year?s AAAS annual meeting in Seattle, host Meagan Cantwell speaks with Alexandra Maertens, director of the Green Toxicology initiative at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, about the importance of incorporating nonanimal testing methods to study the adverse effects of chemicals. This week?s episode was produced with help from Podigy. Download a transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: Let Ideas Compete/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook] 
2020-03-26
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Ancient artifacts on the beaches of Northern Europe, and how we remember music

On this week?s show, host Joel Goldberg talks with science journalist Andrew Curry about archaeological finds from thousands of years ago along the shores of Northern Europe. Curry outlines the rich history of the region that scientists, citizen scientists, and energy companies have helped dredge up. Also this week, from a recording made at this year?s AAAS annual meeting in Seattle, host Meagan Cantwell speaks with Elizabeth Margulis, a professor at Princeton University, about musical memory. Margulis explains what research tells us about how our brains process music, and dives into her own study on how Western and non-Western audiences interpret the same song differently. This week?s episode was edited by Podigy. Download a transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: Sebastian Reinecke/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook] 
2020-03-19
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Science?s leading role in the restoration of Notre Dame, and the surprising biology behind how our body develops its tough skin

On this week?s show, freelance writer Christa Lesté-Lasserre talks with host Sarah Crespi about the scientists working on the restoration of Notre Dame, from testing the changing weight of wet limestone, to how to remove lead contamination from four-story stained glass windows. As the emergency phase of work winds down, scientists are also starting to use the lull in tourist activity to investigate the mysteries of the cathedral?s construction. Also this week, Felipe Quiroz, an assistant professor in the biomedical engineering department at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University, talks with Sarah about his paper on the cellular mechanism of liquid-liquid phase separation in the formation of the tough outer layer of the skin. Liquid-liquid phase separation is when two liquids ?demix,? or separate, like oil and water. In cells, this process created membraneless organelles that are just now starting to be understood. In this work, Quiroz and colleagues create a sensor for phase separation in the cell that works in living tissue, and show how phase separation is tied to the formation of the outer layers of skin in mice. Read the related Insight. This week?s episode was produced with help from Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF). [Image: r. nial bradshaw/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]
2020-03-12
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Dog noses detect heat, the world faces coronavirus, and scientists search for extraterrestrial life

On this week?s show, Online News Editor David Grimm joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss how dogs? cold noses may be able to sense warm bodies. Read the research. International News Editor Martin Enserink shares the latest from our reporters covering coronavirus. And finally, from a recording made at this year?s AAAS annual meeting, host Meagan Cantwell talks with Jill Tarter, chair emeritus at the SETI Institute, about the newest technologies being used to search for alien life, what a positive signal would look like, and how to inform the public if extraterrestrial life ever were detected. This week?s episode was produced with help from Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF).
2020-03-05
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An ancient empire hiding in plain sight, and the billion-dollar cost of illegal fishing

This week on the podcast, Contributing Correspondent Lizzie Wade joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss a turning point for one ancient Mesoamerican city: Tikal. On 16 January 378 C.E., the Maya city lost its leader and the replacement may have been a stranger. We know from writings that the new leader wore the garb of another culture?the Teotihuacan?who lived in a giant city 1000 kilometers away. But was this new ruler of a Maya city really from a separate culture? New techniques being used at the Tikal and Teotihuacan sites have revealed conflicting evidence as to whether Teotihuacan really held sway over a much larger region than previously estimated. Sarah also talks with Rashid Sumaila, professor and Canada research chair in interdisciplinary ocean and fisheries economics at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver?s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries. You may have heard of illegal fishing being bad for the environment or bad for maintaining fisheries?but as Sumaila and colleagues report this week in Science Advances, the illegal fishing trade is also incredibly costly?with gross revenues of between $8.9 billion and $17.2 billion each year. In the books segment this month, Kiki Sanford interviews Gaia Vince about her new book Transcendence How Humans Evolved through Fire, Language, Beauty, and Time. This week?s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF).
2020-02-27
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Brickmaking bacteria and solar cells that turn ?waste? heat into electricity

On this week?s show, Staff Writer Robert F. Service talks with host Sarah Crespi about manipulating microbes to make them produce building materials like bricks?and walls that can take toxins out of the air. Sarah also talks with Paul Davids, principal member of the technical staff in applied photonics & microsystems at Sandia National Laboratories, about an innovation in converting waste heat to electricity that uses similar materials to solar cells but depends on quantum tunneling. And in a bonus segment, producer Meagan Cantwell talks with Online News Editor David Grimm on stage at the AAAS annual meeting in Seattle. They discuss how wildfires can harm your lungs, crime rates in so-called sanctuary states, and how factors such as your gender and country of origin influence how much trust you put in science. This week?s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF).
2020-02-20
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NIH?s new diversity hiring program, and the role of memory suppression in resilience to trauma

On this week?s show, senior correspondent Jeffrey Mervis joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss a new National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant program that aims to encourage diversity at the level of university faculty with the long-range goal of increasing the diversity of NIH grant recipients. Sarah also talks with Pierre Gagnepain, a cognitive neuroscientist at INSERM, the French biomedical research agency, about the role of memory suppression in post-traumatic stress disorder. Could people that are better at suppressing memories be more resilient to the aftermath of trauma? This week?s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF).
2020-02-13
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Fighting cancer with CRISPR, and dating ancient rock art with wasp nests

On this week?s show, Staff Writer Jennifer Couzin-Frankel joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about a Science paper that combines two hot areas of research?CRISPR gene editing and immunotherapy for cancer?and tests it in patients. Sarah also talks with Damien Finch, a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Melbourne, about the Kimberly region of Australia and dating its ice age cave paintings using charcoal from nearby wasp nests. This week?s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF).
2020-02-06
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A cryo?electron microscope accessible to the masses, and tracing the genetics of schizophrenia

Structural biologists rejoiced when cryo?electron microscopy, a technique to generate highly detailed models of biomolecules, emerged. But years after its release, researchers still face long queues to access these machines. Science?s European News Editor Eric Hand walks host Meagan Cantwell through the journey of a group of researchers to create a cheaper, more accessible alternative. Also this week, host Joel Goldberg speaks with psychiatrist and researcher Goodman Sibeko, who worked with the Xhosa people of South Africa to help illuminate genetic details of schizophrenia. Though scientists have examined this subject among Western populations, much less is known about the underlying genetics of people native to Africa. This week?s episode was edited by Podigy. Download a transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast
2020-01-30
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Getting bisphenol A out of food containers, and tracing minute chemical mixtures in the environment

As part of a special issue on chemicals for tomorrow?s Earth, we?ve got two green chemistry stories. First, host Sarah Crespi talks with contributing correspondent Warren Cornwell about how a company came up with a replacement for the popular can lining material bisphenol A and then recruited knowledgeable critics to test its safety. Sarah is also joined by Beate Escher of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research and the University of Tübingen to discuss ways to trace complex mixtures of humanmade chemicals in the environment. They talk about how new technologies can help detect these mixtures, understand their toxicity, and eventually connect their effects on the environment, wildlife, and people. Read more in the special issue on chemicals for tomorrow?s Earth. This week?s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF)
2020-01-23
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Researchers flouting clinical reporting rules, and linking gut microbes to heart disease and diabetes

Though a law requiring clinical trial results reporting has been on the books for decades, many researchers have been slow to comply. Now, 2 years after the law was sharpened with higher penalties for noncompliance, investigative correspondent Charles Piller took a look at the results. He talks with host Sarah Crespi about the investigation and a surprising lack of compliance and enforcement. Also this week, Sarah talks with Brett Finlay, a microbiologist at the University Of British Columbia, Vancouver, about an Insight in this week?s issue that aims to connect the dots between noncommunicable diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer and the microbes that live in our guts. Could these diseases actually spread through our microbiomes? This week?s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF). [Image: stu_spivack/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]
2020-01-16
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Squeezing two people into an MRI machine, and deciding between what?s reasonable and what?s rational

Getting into an MRI machine can be a tight fit for just one person. Now, researchers interested in studying face-to-face interactions are attempting to squeeze a whole other person into the same tube, while taking functional MRI (fMRI) measurements. Staff Writer Kelly Servick joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about the kinds of questions simultaneous fMRIs might answer. Also this week, Sarah talks with Igor Grossman, director of the Wisdom and Culture Lab at the University of Waterloo, about his group?s Science Advances paper on public perceptions of the difference between something being rational and something being reasonable. This week?s episode was edited by Podigy. Read a transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast
2020-01-09
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Areas to watch in 2020, and how carnivorous plants evolved impressive traps

We start our first episode of the new year looking at future trends in policy and research with host Joel Goldberg and several Science News writers. Jeffrey Mervis discusses upcoming policy changes, Kelly Servick gives a rundown of areas to watch in the life sciences, and Ann Gibbons talks about potential advances in ancient proteins and DNA. In research news, host Meagan Cantwell talks with Beatriz Pinto-Goncalves, a postdoctoral researcher at the John Innes Centre, about carnivorous plant traps. Through understanding the mechanisms that create these traps, Pinto-Goncalves and colleagues elucidate what this could mean for how they emerged in the evolutionary history of plants. This week?s episode was edited by Podigy. Ads on this week?s show: KiwiCo Download a transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast  
2020-01-02
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Breakthrough of the Year, our favorite online news stories, and the year in books

As the year comes to a close, we review the best science, the best stories, and the best books from 2019. Our end-of-the-year episode kicks off with Host Sarah Crespi and Online News Editor David Grimm talking about the top online stories on things like human self-domestication, the ?wood wide web,? and more. News Editor Tim Appenzeller joins Sarah to discuss Science?s 2019 Breakthrough of the Year, some of the contenders for breakthrough, also known as runners-up, and a breakdown?when science and politics just didn?t seem to mix this year. Finally, Science books editor Valerie Thompson brings her favorites from the world of science-inflected media. She and Sarah talk about some of the best books reviewed in Science this year, a food extinction book we should have reviewed, a pair of science-centric films, and even an award-winning birding board game. For more science books, films, and games, visit the books et al blog at blogs.sciencemag.org/books. This week?s episode was edited by Podigy. Ads on this week?s show: Bayer; Lightstream; KiwiCo Download a transcript (PDF)  Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast
2019-12-19
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Hunting for new epilepsy drugs, and capturing lightning from space

About one-third of people with epilepsy are treatment resistant. Up until now, epilepsy treatments have focused on taming seizures rather than the source of the disease and for good reason?so many roads lead to epilepsy: traumatic brain injury, extreme fever and infection, and genetic disorders, to name a few. Staff Writer Jennifer Couzin-Frankel talks with host Sarah Crespi about researchers that are turning back the pages on epilepsy, trying to get to the beginning of the story where new treatments might work. And Sarah also talks with Torsten Neurbert at the Technical University of Denmark?s National Space Institute in Kongens Lyngby about capturing high-altitude ?transient luminous events? from the International Space Station (ISS). These lightning-induced bursts of light, color, and occasionally gamma rays were first reported in the 1990s but had only been recorded from the ground or aircraft. With new measurements from the ISS come new insights into the anatomy of lightning. This week?s episode was edited by Podigy. Ads on this week?s show: Bayer; Lightstream; KiwiCo Download a transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: Gemini Observatory; Music: Jeffrey Cook]
2019-12-12
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Debating lab monkey retirement, and visiting a near-Earth asteroid

After their life as research subjects, what happens to lab monkeys? Some are euthanized to complete the research, others switch to new research projects, and some retire from lab life. Should they retire in place?in the same lab under the care of the same custodians?or should they be sent to retirement home?like sanctuaries? Online News Editor David Grimm joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss recently penned legislation that pushes for monkey retirements and a new collaboration between universities and sanctuaries to create a retirement pipeline for these primates. Sarah also talks with Dante Lauretta, principal investigator for NASA?s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) and a professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson, about the latest news from the asteroid Bennu. Within 1 week of beginning its orbit of the asteroid, OSIRIS-REx was able to send back surprising images of the asteroid ejecting material. It?s extremely rocky surface also took researchers by surprise and forced a recalculation of the sample return portion of the craft?s mission. This week?s episode was edited by Podigy. Ads on this week?s show: McDonalds; Parcast?s Natural Disasters podcast; KiwiCo Download the transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast
2019-12-05
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Double dipping in an NIH loan repayment program, and using undersea cables as seismic sensors

The National Institutes of Health?s largest loan repayment program was conceived to help scientists pay off school debts without relying on industry funding. But a close examination of the program by investigative correspondent Charles Piller has revealed that many participants are taking money from the government to repay their loans, while at the same time taking payments from pharmaceutical companies. Piller joins Host Sarah Crespi to talk about the steps he took to uncover this double dipping and why ethicists say this a conflict of interest.   Sarah also talks with Nate Lindsey, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Berkeley, about turning a 50-kilometer undersea fiber optic cable designed to move data into a sensor for activity in the ocean and the land underneath. During a 4-day test in Monterey Bay, California, the cable detected earthquakes, faults, waves, and even ocean-going storms. For this month?s books segment, Kiki Sandford talks with Dan Hooper about his book At the Edge of Time: Exploring the Mysteries of Our Universe?s First Seconds.   You can find more books segments on the Books et al. blog.   This week?s episode was edited by Podigy.   Ads on this week?s show: McDonalds; Salk?s Where Cures Begin podcast   Download the transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts.   About the Science Podcast
2019-11-28
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Building a landslide observatory, and the universality of music

You may have seen the aftermath of a landslide, driving along a twisty mountain road?a scattering of rocks and scree impinging on the pavement. And up until now, that?s pretty much how scientists have tracked landslides?roadside observations and spotty satellite images. Now, researchers are hoping to track landslides systematically by instrumenting an entire national park in Taiwan. The park is riddled with landslides?so much so that visitors wear helmets. Host Sarah Crespi talks with one of those visitors?freelance science journalist Katherine Kornei?about what we can learn from landslides. In a second rocking segment, Sarah also talks with Manvir Singh about the universality of music. His team asked the big questions in a Science paper out this week: Do all societies make music? What are the common elements that can be picked out from songs worldwide? Sarah and Manvir listen to songs and talk about what love ballads and lullabies have in common, regardless of their culture of origin. Explore the music database.  This week?s episode was edited by Podigy. Ads on this week?s show: Bayer; KiwiCo; McDonalds Download a transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: Martin Lewinson/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]
2019-11-21
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How to make an Arctic ship ?vanish,? and how fast-moving spikes are heating the Sun?s atmosphere

The Polarstern research vessel will spend 1 year locked in an Arctic ice floe. Aboard the ship and on the nearby ice, researchers will take measurements of the ice, air, water, and more in an effort to understand this pristine place. Science journalist Shannon Hall joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about her time aboard the Polarstern and how difficult these measurements are, when the researchers? temporary Arctic home is the noisiest, smokiest, brightest thing around. After that icy start, Sarah talks also with Tanmoy Samanta, a postdoctoral researcher at Peking University in Beijing, about the source of the extreme temperature of the Sun?s corona, which can be up to 1 million K hotter than the surface of the Sun. His team?s careful measurements of spicules?small, plentiful, short-lived spikes of plasma that constantly ruffle the Sun?s surface?and the magnetic networks that seem to generate these spikes, suggest a solution to the long-standing problem of how spicules arise and, at the same time, their likely role in the heating of the corona. This week?s episode was edited by Podigy. Ads on this week?s show: Bayer Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: Shannon Hall; Music: Jeffrey Cook]
2019-11-14
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Unearthing slavery in the Caribbean, and the Catholic Church?s influence on modern psychology

Most historical accounts of slavery were written by colonists and planters. Researchers are now using the tools of archaeology to learn more about the day-to-day lives of enslaved Africans?how they survived the conditions of slavery, how they participated in local economies, and how they maintained their own agency. Host Sarah Crespi talks with Contributing Correspondent Lizzie Wade about a Caribbean archaeology project based on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands and launched by the founders of the Society for Black Archaeologists that aims to unearth these details. Watch a related video here. Sarah also talks with Jonathan Schulz, a professor in the Department of Economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, about a role for the medieval Roman Catholic Church in so-called WEIRD psychology?western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic. The bulk of psychology experiments have used participants that could be described as WEIRD, and according to many psychological measures, WEIRD subjects tend to have some extreme traits, like a stronger tendency toward individuality and more friendliness with strangers. Schulz and colleagues used historical maps and measures of kinship structure to tie these traits to strict marriage rules enforced by the medieval Catholic Church in Western Europe. Read related commentary. This week?s episode was edited by Podigy. Ads on this week?s show: Bayer; KiwiCo Download a transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast
2019-11-07
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How measles wipes out immune memory, and detecting small black holes

Measles is a dangerous infection that can kill. As many as 100,000 people die from the disease each year. For those who survive infection, the virus leaves a lasting mark?it appears to wipe out the immune system?s memory. News Intern Eva Fredrick joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about a pair of studies that looked at how this happens in children?s immune systems. Read the related studies in Science and Science Immunology. In our second segment this week, Sarah talks with Todd Thompson, of Ohio State University in Columbus, about his effort to find a small black hole in a binary pair with a red giant star. Usually black holes are detected because they are accruing matter and as the matter interacts with the black hole, x-rays are released. Without this flashy signal, black hole detection gets much harder. Astronomers must look for the gravitational influence of the black holes on nearby stars?which is easier to spot when the black hole is massive. Thompson talks with Sarah about a new approach to finding small, noninteracting black holes. This week?s episode was edited by Podigy. Ads on this week?s show: Bayer Download a transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast
2019-10-31
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A worldwide worm survey, and racial bias in a health care algorithm

Earthworms are easy ? to find. But despite their prevalence and importance to ecosystems around the world, there hasn?t been a comprehensive survey of earthworm diversity or population size. This week in Science, Helen Philips, a postdoctoral fellow at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research and the Institute of Biology at Leipzig University, and colleagues published the results of their worldwide earthworm study, composed of data sets from many worm researchers around the globe. Host Sarah Crespi gets the lowdown from Philips on earthworm myths, collaborating with worm researchers, and links between worm populations and climate. Read a related commentary here.  Sarah also talks with Ziad Obermeyer, a professor in the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley, about dissecting out bias in an algorithm used by health care systems in the United States to recommend patients for additional health services. With unusual access to a proprietary algorithm, inputs, and outputs, Obermeyer and his colleagues found that the low amount of health care dollars spent on black patients in the past caused the algorithm to underestimate their risk for poor health in the future. Obermeyer and Sarah discuss how this happened and remedies that are already in progress. Read a related commentary here.  Finally, in the monthly books segment, books host Kiki Sanford interviews author Alice Gorman about her book Dr. Space Junk vs The Universe: Archaeology and the Future. Listen to more book segments on the Science books blog: Books, et al. This week?s episode was edited by Podigy. Ads on this week?s show: The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life by David Quanmen; MEL Science Download the transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: Public domain; Music: Jeffrey Cook]
2019-10-24
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Trying to find the mind in the brain, and why adults are always criticizing ?kids these days?

We don?t know where consciousness comes from. And we don?t know whether animals have it, or whether we can detect it in patients in comas. Do neuroscientists even know where to look? A new competition aims to narrow down the bewildering number of theories of consciousness and get closer to finding its biological signs by pitting different theories against each other in experimental settings. Freelance journalist Sara Reardon talks with host Sarah Crespi about how the competition will work. In our second segment, we talk about how we think about children. For thousands of years, adults have complained about their lack of respect, intelligence, and tendency to distraction, compared with previous generations. A new study out this week in Science Advances suggests our own biased childhood memories might be at fault. Sarah Crespi talks with John Protzko of the University of California, Santa Barbara, about how terrible people thought kids were in 3800 B.C.E. and whether understanding those biases might change how people view Generation Z today. This week?s episode was edited by Podigy. Ads on this week?s show: The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life by David Quanmen; Bayer; KiwiCo Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: Andrea Kirkby/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]
2019-10-17
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Fossilized dinosaur proteins, and making a fridge from rubber bands

Have you ever tried to scrub off the dark, tarlike residue on a grill? That tough stuff is made up of polymers?basically just byproducts of cooking?and it is so persistent that researchers have found similar molecules that have survived hundreds of millions of years. And these aren?t from cook fires. They are actually the byproducts of death and fossilization. Host Sarah Crespi talks with Contributing Correspondent Gretchen Vogel about how these molecules can be found on the surface of certain fossils and used as fingerprints for the proteins that once dwelled in dinos. And Sarah talks with Zunfeng Liu, a professor at Nankai University in Tianjin, China, about a new cooling technology based on a 100-year-old observation that a stretched rubber band is warm and a relaxed one is cool. It?s going to be hard to beat the 60% efficiency of compression-based refrigerators and air conditioning units, but Zunfeng and colleagues aim to try, with twists and coils that can cool water by 7°C when relaxed. This week?s episode was edited by Podigy. Ads on this week?s show: The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life by David Quammen Download a transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast
2019-10-10
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An app for eye disease, and planting memories in songbirds

Host Sarah Crespi talks with undergraduate student Micheal Munson from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, about a smartphone app that scans photos in the phone?s library for eye disease in kids.  And Sarah talks with Todd Roberts of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, about incepting memories into zebra finches to study how they learn their songs. Using a technique called optogenetics?in which specific neurons can be controlled by pulses of light?the researchers introduced false song memories by turning on neurons in different patterns, with longer or shorter note durations than typical zebra finch songs. This week?s episode was edited by Podigy. Ads on this week?s show: MOVA Globes; KiwiCo.com Download a transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast  
2019-10-03
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Privacy concerns slow Facebook studies, and how human fertility depends on chromosome counts

On this week?s show, Senior News Correspondent Jeffrey Mervis talks with host Sarah Crespi about a stalled Facebook plan to release user data to social scientists who want to study the site?s role in elections. Sarah also talks with Jennifer Gruhn, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Copenhagen Center for Chromosome Stability, about counting chromosomes in human egg cells. It turns out that cell division errors that cause too many or too few chromosomes to remain in the egg may shape human fertility over our reproductive lives. Finally, in this month?s book segment, Kiki Sanford talks with Daniel Navon about his book Mobilizing Mutations: Human Genetics in the Age of Patient Advocacy. Visit the books blog for more author interviews: Books et al. This week?s episode was edited by Podigy. Ads on this week?s show: MOVA Globes; The Tangled Tree by David Quammen Download a transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast  
2019-09-26
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Cooling Earth with asteroid dust, and 3 billion missing birds

On this week?s show, science journalist Josh Sokol talks about a global cooling event sparked by space dust that lead to a huge shift in animal and plant diversity 466 million years ago. (Read the related research article in Science Advances.) And I talk with Kenneth Rosenberg, an applied conservation scientist at Cornell University, about steep declines in bird abundance in the United States and Canada. His team estimates about 3 billion birds have gone missing since the 1970s. This week?s episode was edited by Podigy. Ads on this week?s show: MOVA Globes; KiwiCo.com Download the transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: Public domain; Music: Jeffrey Cook]
2019-09-19
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Studying human health at 5100 meters, and playing hide and seek with rats

In La Rinconada, Peru, a town 5100 meters up in the Peruvian Andes, residents get by breathing air with 50% less oxygen than at sea level. International News Editor Martin Enserink visited the site with researchers studying chronic mountain sickness?when the body makes excess red blood cells in an effort to cope with oxygen deprivation?in these extreme conditions. Martin talks with host Sarah Crespi about how understanding why this illness occurs in some people and not others could help the residents of La Rinconada and the 140 million people worldwide living above 2500 meters. Read the whole special issue on mountains.  Sarah also talks with Annika Stefanie Reinhold about her work at the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience in Berlin training rats to play hide and seek. Surprisingly, rats learned the game easily and were even able to switch roles?sometimes playing as the seeker, other times the hider. Annika talks with Sarah about why studying play behavior in animals is important for understanding the connections between play and learning in both rats and humans. This week?s episode was edited by Podigy. Ads on this week?s show: MOVA Globes; Kroger?s Zero Hunger, Zero Waste campaign Download a transcript (PDF)  Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: Tambako The Jaguar/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]
2019-09-12
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Searching for a lost Maya city, and measuring the information density of language

This week?s show starts with Contributing Correspondent Lizzie Wade, who spent 12 days with archaeologists searching for a lost Maya city in the Chiapas wilderness in Mexico. She talks with host Sarah Crespi about how you lose a city?and how you might go about finding one. And Sarah talks with Christophe Coupé, an associate professor in the department of linguistics at the University of Hong Kong in China, about the information density of different languages. His work, published this week in Science Advances, suggests very different languages?from Chinese to Japanese to English and French?are all equally efficient at conveying information. This week?s episode was edited by Podigy. Ads on this week?s show: Kroger?s Zero Hunger, Zero Waste campaign; KiwiCo Download a transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast  
2019-09-05
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Where our microbiome came from, and how our farming and hunting ancestors transformed the world

Micro-organisms live inside everything from the human gut to coral?but where do they come from? Host Meagan Cantwell talks to Staff Writer Elizabeth Pennisi about the first comprehensive survey of microbes in Hawaii?s Waimea Valley, which revealed that plants and animals get their unique microbiomes from organisms below them in the food chain or the wider environment. Going global, Meagan then speaks with Erle Ellis, professor of geography and environmental science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, about a project that aggregated the expertise of more than 250 archaeologists to map human land use over the past 10,000 years. This detailed map will help fine-tune climate models. This week?s episode was edited by Podigy. Ads on this show: Science Sessions Podcast; Kroger Download a transcript (PDF)  Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: Chris Couderc/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]
2019-08-29
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Promising approaches in suicide prevention, and how to retreat from climate change

Changing the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline from 1-800-273- 8255 (TALK) to a three-digit number could save lives?especially when coupled with other strategies. Host Meagan Cantwell talks to Greg Miller, a science journalist based in Portland, Oregon, about three effective methods to prevent suicides?crisis hotlines, standardizing mental health care, and restricting lethal means. Greg?s feature is part of a larger package in Science exploring paths out of darkness. With more solutions this week, host Sarah Crespi speaks with A. R. Siders, a social scientist at the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware in Newark, about her policy forum on the need for ?managed climate retreat??strategically moving people and property away from high-risk flood and fire zones. Integrating relocation into a larger strategy could maximize its benefits, supporting equality and economic development along the way. This week?s episode was edited by Podigy. Ads on this show: KiwiCo; Kroger Download a transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: Scott Woods-Fehr/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook] 
2019-08-22
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One million ways to sex a chicken egg, and how plastic finds its way to Arctic ice

Researchers, regulators, and the chicken industry are all united in their search for a way to make eggs more ethical by stopping culling?the killing of male chicks born to laying hens. Contributing Correspondent Gretchen Vogel talks with host Sarah Crespi about the many approaches being tried to determine the sex of chicken embryos before they hatch, from robots with lasers, to MRIs, to artificial intelligence, to gene editing with CRISPR. Also this week, Sarah talks with Melanie Bergmann, a marine biologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, Germany, about finding microplastic particles in snow all the way up at the Fram Strait, between Greenland and the Svalbarg archipelago in Norway. This week?s episode was edited by Podigy. Download a transcript (PDF) Ads on this week?s show: Science Sessions podcast; National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: fruchtzwerg?s world/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]
2019-08-15
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Next-generation cellphone signals could interfere with weather forecasts, and monitoring smoke from wildfires to model nuclear winter

In recent months, telecommunications companies in the United States have purchased a new part of the spectrum for use in 5G cellphone networks. Weather forecasters are concerned that these powerful signals could swamp out weaker signals from water vapor?which are in a nearby band and important for weather prediction. Freelance science writer Gabriel Popkin joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about the possible impact of cellphone signals on weather forecasting and some suggested regulations. In other weather news this week, Sarah talks with Pengfei Yu, a professor at Jinan University in Guangzhou, China, about his group?s work using a huge smoke plume from the 2017 wildfires in western Canada as a model for smoke from nuclear bombs. They found the wildfire smoke lofted itself 23 kilometers into the stratosphere, spread across the Northern Hemisphere, and took 8 months to dissipate, which line up with models of nuclear winter and suggests these fires can help predict the results of a nuclear war. This week?s episode was edited by Podigy. Ads on this week?s show: KiwiCo.com Download the transcript (PDF)  Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast
2019-08-08
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Earthquakes caused by too much water extraction, and a dog cancer that has lived for millennia

After two mysterious earthquake swarms occurred under the Sea of Galilee, researchers found a relationship between these small quakes and the excessive extraction of groundwater. Science journalist Michael Price talks with host Sarah Crespi about making this connection and what it means for water-deprived fault areas like the Sea of Galilee and the state of California. Also this week, Sarah talks with graduate student Adrian Baez-Ortega from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom?s Transmissible Cancer Group about the genome of a canine venereal cancer that has been leaping from dog to dog for about 8000 years. By comparing the genomes of this cancer from dogs around the globe, the researchers were able to learn more about its origins and spread around the world. They also discuss how such a long-lived cancer might help them better understand and treat human cancers. This week?s episode was edited by Podigy. Ads on this week?s show: Science Sessions podcast from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Download the transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast
2019-08-01
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Breeding better bees, and training artificial intelligence on emotional imagery

Imagine having a rat clinging to your back, sucking out your fat stores. That?s similar to what infested bees endure when the Varroa destructor mite comes calling. Some bees fight back, wiggling, scratching, and biting until the mites depart for friendlier backs. Now, researchers, professional beekeepers, and hobbyists are working on ways to breed into bees these mite-defeating behaviors to rid them of these damaging pests. Host Sarah Crespi and Staff Writer Erik Stokstad discuss the tactics of, and the hurdles to, pesticide-free mite control. Also this week, Sarah talks to Philip Kragel of the Institute of Cognitive Science at the University of Colorado in Boulder about training an artificial intelligence on emotionally charged images. The ultimate aim of this research: to understand how the human visual system is involved in processing emotion. And in books, Kate Eichorn, author of The End of Forgetting: Growing Up with Social Media, joins books host Kiki Sanford to talk about how the monetization of digital information has led to the ease of social media sharing and posting for kids and adults. This week?s episode was edited by Podigy. Download a transcript (PDF)  Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: Steve Baker/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]
2019-07-25
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Can we inherit trauma from our ancestors, and the secret to dark liquid dances

Can we inherit trauma from our ancestors? Studies of behavior and biomarkers have suggested the stress of harsh conditions or family separations can be passed down, even beyond one?s children. Journalist Andrew Curry joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss a possible mechanism for this mode of inheritance and mouse studies that suggest possible ways to reverse the effects. Spiky, pulsating ferrofluids are perpetual YouTube stars. The secret to these dark liquid dances is the manipulation of magnetic nanoparticles in the liquid by external magnets. But when those outside forces are removed, the dance ends. Now, researchers writing in Science have created permanently magnetic fluids that respond to other magnets, electricity, and pH by changing shape, moving, and?yes?probably even dancing. Sarah Crespi talks to Thomas Russell of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst about the about the applications of these squishy, responsive magnets. This week?s episode was edited by Podigy. Download a transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast
2019-07-18
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