New Scientist Podcasts

New Scientist Podcasts

By New Scientist

Podcasts for the insatiably curious by the world’s most popular weekly science magazine. Everything from the latest science and technology news to the big-picture questions about life, the universe and what it means to be human.


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Episodes

Weekly: Is personalised medicine overhyped?; Pythagoras was wrong about music; How your brain sees nothing

#239Two decades ago, following the Human Genome Project’s release of a first draft in 2001, genetic testing was set to revolutionise healthcare. “Personalised medicine” would give us better treatments for serious conditions, clear pictures of our risks and individualised healthcare recommendations. But despite all the genetic tests available, that healthcare revolution has not exactly come to fruition. Amid news that genetic testing poster child firm 23andMe has hit financial troubles, we ask whether personalised medicine was overhyped.Ancient Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras once established strict mathematical rules for what constitutes pleasing music – those rules involve ratios and harmonies that were the basis of much of Western music theory. But comprehensive new research finds people’s preferences have little to do with Pythagoras’ rules.The invention of the numeral zero to represent nothing is a cornerstone of some of our greatest accomplishments as a species, like calculus, literature and philosophy. Now researchers have figured out how our brains comprehend the idea of nothing – and it may have started as registering the absence of predators, prey, or even weather conditions. The experiment finds where “nothing” lives in our brain and traces back the invention of the numeral zero to our animal roots.If you want to make friends with a dog but are wary of petting them, there is a way. All you need to do is follow them around and copy their movements. Research into this behavioural synchronisation could prove beneficial to helping nervous pups connect better with people.Plus: Making plankton poo heavier with clay – for the environment; YouTube’s recommendation algorithm seems to have stopped inadvertently radicalising people; the specific chemical compounds that make an orange taste orangey.Hosts Christie Taylor and Timothy Revell discuss with guests Clare Wilson, Jacob Aron, James Woodford and Sam Wong. To read more about these stories, visit newscientist.com.Music credit:“Bonang,” Wesleyan University Virtual Instrument Museum 2.0, accessed February 29th, 2024, https://wesomeka.wesleyan.edu/vim2/items/show/3 Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
01/03/24·26m 17s

CultureLab: What would life on Mars be like? The science behind TV series For All Mankind

Freezing temperatures, dust storms, radiation, marsquakes – living on Mars right now would be hellish. And getting there remains a multi-year journey. But what if we could make it habitable? Could we one day build settlements on the Red Planet or send human scientists to search for life?That’s the premise of the TV series For All Mankind, which explores a future where the space race continued after the moon landing and humanity kept spreading out across space. But in the name of a good story, real science occasionally took the backstage. In this episode, TV columnist Bethan Ackerley speaks to NASA Astronaut Garrett Reisman, who was also a consultant on the show, as well as planetary scientist Tanya Harrison who’s worked on multiple NASA missions to Mars. Between them, they explore how far off we really are from living on Mars, what it would take to surmount the remaining challenges – and why it’s still a dream worth pursuing in the real world.Want more? Read Bethan’s review of For All Mankind Season 4.To read about subjects like this and much more, visit newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
27/02/24·45m 34s

Weekly: ADHD helps foraging?; the rise of AI “deepfakes”; ignored ovary appendage

#238ADHD is a condition that affects millions of people and is marked by impulsivity, restlessness and attention difficulties. But how did ADHD evolve in humans and why did it stick around? Through the help of a video game, a study shows that these traits might be beneficial when foraging for food. In 2023, we hit record after record when it comes to high temperatures on Earth, including in the oceans and seas. From the surface to 2000 metres down, it was hard to find a part of the ocean not affected. This week, about 5000 scientists gathered in New Orleans for the American Geophysical Union’s biennial Ocean Sciences Meeting. Heat was the one thing on everyone’s mind, as researchers grapple to understand the drivers and consequences these new records have – but also look for promising solutions.The future of AI deepfake technology is not looking good. You might remember the infamous fake images of Taylor Swift that included non-consensual, intimate images of her on social media. Or the fake robotcall that mimicked President Joe Biden’s voice and discouraged voters from coming to the polls. As voice, picture and video generating technologies become cheaper and easier to use, can anything be done to prevent more harm?A “useless” structure on the ovary may in fact be key to fertility in mammals. The structure, a tiny series of tubes called the rete ovarii, was first discovered in 1870  and doesn’t even appear in modern textbooks. Now, researchers accidentally stumbled back onto it – and suggest that the rete ovarii may help control ovulation and the menopause. Plus: Humpback whales’ huge and specialised larynxes; physicists are excited about a new “unicorn” in the world of black holes; the “dogbot” that becomes three-legged to open doors.Hosts Christie Taylor and Timothy Revell discuss with guests Chen Ly, James Dinneen, Jeremy Hsu and Michael Le Page. To read more about these stories, visit newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
23/02/24·24m 9s

Escape Pod #5 Sound: Prepare to feel relaxed, tingly and amazed, in the space of 20 minutes

This is a re-airing of a podcast originally released in February 2021.Prepare to feel relaxed, tingly and amazed all in the space of 20 minutes. This episode is all about sound.We start with the musical tones of an elephant trumpeting, followed by a recording from Cornell University’s Elephant Listening Project, showing how they communicate at an infrasonic frequency, which humans can’t ordinarily detect.The team then attempts to send shivers down your spine by recreating ASMR, explaining why some people enjoy the sound of whispering, rustling crisp packets or apple biting.They also share a range of audio illusions, and close the show with the soothing sounds of white noise, created by Stephane Pigeon from www.mynoise.net.Shepard Tone and Binaural Beats courtesy of Alexander from www.orangefreesounds.com under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Bethan Ackerley and Timothy Revell. Find out more at newscientist.com/podcasts Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
21/02/24·17m 34s

Weekly: Reversing blindness; power beamed from space; animal love languages

#237Glaucoma, which can cause blindness by damaging the optic nerve, may be reversible. Researchers have managed to coax new optic nerve cells to grow in mice, partly restoring sight in some. How the treatment works through an eyeball injection and why, for humans, prevention and early detection are still the best options.Black holes, just like planets and stars, spin. But they may be spinning a lot slower than we thought. When black holes gobble up matter around them, they start spinning faster and we’ve largely used this understanding to guess their speed. But new research also weighs the slowing effect of massive gas jets that black holes emit – revealing that many may have slowed dramatically since their births. How these new estimates of spin also offer insights into a black hole’s history. What if we could generate solar power in space, far more efficiently than on Earth – and then beam it down to our houses? An MIT experiment has managed to do one of the most crucial steps of that science fiction-seeming process, converting electricity from a satellite into microwaves that were then successfully received by a collector in California. How these microwaves could supply the power grid on Earth and help ween us off of fossil fuels – if they can overcome some major hurdles. Apes like to playfully tease each other, just like humans do. While their methods may be a bit different from ours – poking, hitting, pulling on hair and stealing – it looks like they’re often doing it for fun, rather than to harass or assert dominance. This new finding could explain why humans evolved to enjoy jokes.Plus: A weird cooling quirk of Antarctica’s atmosphere; the microbes that make your tea taste delicious; and the flamboyant love languages of cuttlefish, scorpions and even dog-loving humans.Hosts Christie Taylor and Chelsea Whyte discuss with guests Michael Le Page, Alex Wilkins and Chen Ly. To read more about these stories, visit newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
16/02/24·23m 55s

CultureLab: Where billionaires rule the apocalypse: Naomi Alderman’s ‘The Future’

Real tech billionaires are reportedly building secret bunkers in case of post-apocalyptic societal collapse. It’s a frightening prospect, a world where only the super rich survive catastrophe. But it’s a world one author is exploring in her latest novel.Naomi Alderman is the prize-winning and best-selling author of The Power. Her latest book The Future imagines a world where billionaires survive a world-shaking cataclysm, only to find out they’re not as in charge of events as they think they are. The Future has been the centrepiece of the New Scientist book club. In this episode culture and comment editor Alison Flood asks Naomi all about it. They explore her motivations for writing the book, the real mysteries of human evolutionary history and why Alderman thinks artificial intelligence can’t actually predict what’s to come for humanity.This conversation contains some spoilers.To read about subjects like this and much more, visit newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
13/02/24·20m 25s

Weekly: Record-breaking fusion experiments inch the world closer to new source of clean energy

#236This week marks two major milestones in the world of fusion. In 2022 a fusion experiment at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory created more power than was required to sustain it – now, the same team has improved this record by 25 per cent, releasing almost twice the energy that was put in. Meanwhile, the UK’s JET reactor set a new world record for total energy output from any fusion reaction, just before it shut down for good late last year. Why these two milestones inch us closer to practical, sustainable fusion energy – but still leave a significant distance to go.A historic drought has caused a shipping traffic jam in the Panama Canal, one of the world’s most important shipping routes. Record low levels of water mean fewer ships can pass through the intricate system of locks that carry them across the narrow strip of land. As climate change increases the likelihood of extreme drought, how could this impact both the cost of shipping goods and Panama’s economy?Microdosing LSD may not have psychedelic effects, but it still causes noticeable changes in the brain. Researchers gave people tiny amounts of the drug while measuring their brain activity and noticed their brain signals became far more complex, even though they didn’t feel any hallucinatory effects. What this study tells us about the relationship between consciousness and neural complexity.Magma flowing into a giant crack formed by this year’s volcanic eruption in Iceland was caught moving at a rate of 7400 cubic metres per second – the fastest ever recorded for this kind of event. The kilometres-long crack first began producing eruptions in December last year, and another began just this week. So what’s next for the people living nearby? Plus: The asteroid Bennu may be a chunk of an ocean world; a new, lightning-dense thunderstorm spotted by satellites; rediscovering the bizarre-looking sharp-snouted Somali worm lizard after more than 90 years.Hosts Christie Taylor and Sophie Bushwick discuss with guests Matt Sparkes, James Dinneen, Grace Wade and Michael Le Page. To read more about these stories, visit newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
09/02/24·23m 22s

Escape Pod: #4 Mass: from lightest creates on earth, to the heaviest things in the cosmos

This is a re-airing of a podcast originally released in February 2021.From some of the lightest creatures on earth, to the heaviest things in the cosmos, this episode is all about mass.It’s a magical opening to the show as the team discusses a group of insects called fairy wasps which are so light it’s near impossible to weigh them.They then turn to matters of massive proportions, discussing a little thing called dark matter.Finally the team wraps up by looking at the surprising, and slightly hilarious ways that a kilogram is measured.On the podcast are Rowan Hooper, Anna Demming and Timothy Revell.Find out more at newscientist.com/podcasts Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
06/02/24·17m 27s

Weekly: Alzheimer’s from contaminated injections; Musk's Neuralink begins human trials; longest living dogs

#235In very rare cases, Alzheimer’s disease could be transmitted from person to person during medical procedures. This finding comes as five people have developed the disease after receiving contaminated human growth hormone injections in the late 1950s to early 1980s – a practice that is now banned. What this finding means for medical settings and why most people don’t need to be concerned.  Elon Musk’s mind-reading brain implant company Neuralink is carrying out its first human trial. The volunteer who has received the surgically implanted device and is now, Musk said earlier this week, “recovering well”. Neuralink promises to connect users to their smartphones and computers, reading brain signals and translating a person’s intentions into text or other functions. While this isn’t the first device of its kind, it is the only one being marketed as a consumer technology device, as opposed to a medical device. Contrails, the streams of white vapour that form behind planes in the sky, are to blame for a huge proportion of air travel’s impact on the climate. But there’s good news. Small changes in altitude may be sufficient to reduce their formation – and implementing these changes may be easier than we thought. Plus why flying at night has a bigger climate impact.Tiny tornadoes have been discovered inside the egg cells of fruit flies. These twisters circulate the jelly-like cytoplasm inside the cells and could be essential to the successful reproduction of these fruit flies. Excitingly, these tornadoes may be happening in the cells of other animals too – just not humans.Plus: Revealing which dogs live the longest; how an army of Twitter bots spreaded fake news about 2023’s Chinese spy balloon incident; an ancient gadget that turns fibres into rope.Hosts Timothy Revell and Christie Taylor discuss with guests Chen Ly, Matt Sparkes, James Dinneen and Alex Wilkins. To read more about these stories, visit newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
02/02/24·21m 32s

CultureLab: Earth’s Last Great Wild Areas – Simon Reeve on BBC series ‘Wilderness’

Very few places on our planet appear untouchedby humans, but in those that do, nature is still very much in charge – and the scenery is breathtaking. In the new BBC series Wilderness with Simon Reeve, journalist Simone Reeve takes us into the heart of Earth's last great wild areas, including the Congo Basin rainforest, Patagonia, the Coral Triangle and the Kalahari desert in Southern Africa.In this episode of CultureLab, TV columnist Bethan Ackerley asks Simon about the series and his many exciting expeditions, including meeting bonobos in the depths of the Congo and a “staggering experience” trekking up the South Patagonia icefield. We hear about his meetings with Indigenous peoples and what they can teach us about living more intune with nature. And we discover why now is the time to focus on Earth’s wildernesses.To read about subjects like this and much more, visit newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
30/01/24·26m 27s

Weekly: Why AI won’t take your job just yet; how sound helps fungi grow faster; chickpeas grown in moon dust for first time

#234Is AI really ready to take our jobs? A team looked at whether AI image recognition could replace tasks like checking price tags on items or looking at the pupils of patients in surgery.  The researchers found only a small fraction of these vision-reliant tasks could be cost-effectively taken over by AI – for now, anyway.There’s an old myth that singing to your plants helps them grow – apparently this actually works with fungus. A pair of experiments has found that fungus grows much more quickly when it’s blasted with an 80 decibel tone, compared to fungus that receives the silent treatment. Roe v Wade, the landmark US Supreme Court decision that protected the right to an abortion, was overturned in 2022. Many states passed new restrictions on the procedure in the years that followed, some total or near-total – meaning few exceptions for pregnancies that result from sexual assault. New estimates suggest that more than 65,000 people in those states have since experienced rape-related pregnancy and been unable to legally receive abortion care where they live.Chickpeas have been grown in moon dust for the first time. Moon dust is low on nutrients and full of toxic heavy metals, making it a difficult place for plants to grow.But by turning the dust into more of an ecosystem, complete with fungi and earthworms, a team has gotten a generation of chickpeas to survive and even flower. And given chickpeas are more nutrient dense than other plants we’ve managed to grow so far, this is great news if we ever want to settle on the lunar surface.Plus: Maybe owls can actually turn their heads around, 360 degrees. A robot avatar that lets you see and feel what it sees and feels. And a bacteria that turns from prey to predator when the temperature drops.Hosts Timothy Revell and Christie Taylor discuss with guests Jeremy Hsu, James Woodford, Grace Wade and Leah Crane. To read more about these stories, visit newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
26/01/24·23m 56s

Escape Pod: #3 Music: the jazz swing of birdsong and the sonification of the orbits of planets

This is a re-airing of a podcast originally released in February 2021.This episode is all about music, so today’s journey of escapism comes complete with odd, relaxing, soothing and interesting sounds to guide you through.The team opens with the sounds of animals, specifically the singing - if you can call it that - of gorillas, and the jazzy birdsong of the thrush.They then treat you to the sounds of data sonification, courtesy of Milton Mermikides, who translates motion into music, like the swinging of a pendulum, the crystallisation of salt, or the orbits of planets.Finally they tackle the small matter of just why exactly it is we humans love music so much.On the podcast are Rowan Hooper, Bethan Ackerley and Timothy Revell.Find out more at newscientist.com/podcasts Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
23/01/24·16m 15s

Weekly: Cloned rhesus monkey lives to adulthood for first time; fermented foods carry antibiotic resistant bugs; an impossible cosmic object

#233A cloned rhesus monkey named ReTro is said to be in good health more than three years after his birth – a landmark achievement, as no other rhesus clone has lived to adulthood.. However, the method used to clone ReTro used fetal cells, a method that cannot create identical clones of adult primates. The method could still be useful for medical research. Fermented foods are meant to be healthy and good for our guts, but there’s a problem. Researchers have found antibiotic resistant bacteria in a small pilot study of some fermented foods. In vulnerable people, these bacteria could damage the gut and cause more severe health issues – and be resistant to antibiotic treatment. This ancient practice may need an update to deal with a modern problem.Is it a black hole, is it a neutron star? No it’s a… mystery. A strange object has been found in the depths of space that could be the smallest black hole we’ve ever detected, or a neutron star that’s larger than we thought possible. Either result would be interesting, offering exciting new insights into our understanding of the universe.A new type of computer promises to be more efficient than your standard PC. Normal Computing’s device uses the laws of thermodynamics – and tiny, random fluctuations in electrical current – to compute. And maybe most importantly, it’s already been used to solve some difficult problems.Tardigrades are some of the hardiest creatures on the planet. These microscopic “water bears” can survive harsh conditions by entering a deep, dehydrated state of hibernation. And now researchers have figured out how they do it.Hosts Timothy Revell and Christie Taylor discuss with guests Sam Wong, James Woodford, Alex Wilkins, Karmela Padavic-Callaghan and Chen Ly. To read more about these stories, visit newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
19/01/24·23m 16s

CultureLab: Breaking space records, human bowling and a trip to the Moon with astronaut Christina Koch

NASA astronaut Christina Koch not only took part in the first ever all-female spacewalks, but she also holds the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman, after spending 328 days on board the International Space Station.So what does it take to live in space for such a long time, what does it mean to be a record-breaking astronaut – and how do you get used to gravity again when you finally come back home? New Scientist space reporter Leah Crane asks Chrstina all of these questions and more in a special interview for CultureLab. Plus: the surprising sport of human bowling, what things smell like when you leave planet Earth and how Christina’s sights are now set on the Moon as she prepares for the Artemis 2 mission.To read about subjects like this and much more, visit newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
16/01/24·22m 29s

Weekly: Brain regions shrink during pregnancy; oldest and largest Amazon cities discovered; corals that change their sex like clockwork

#232During pregnancy the brain undergoes profound changes – almost every part of the cortex thins out and loses volume by the third trimester. It’s such a big change that you can tell if someone’s pregnant just by looking at a scan of their brain. How researchers discovered these changes and why they might be occurring.A massive, ancient group of cities has been discovered in the Amazon rainforest using lasers. It’s the biggest pre-Columbian urban area ever found in the Amazon and parts of it date back further than any other settlement too. So why have we only just found it and why was it abandoned?Where does stuff go when it’s sucked into a black hole? Based on Stephen Hawking’s theory that black holes slowly evaporate, most of it just disappears. But in physics, information about that matter can’t just disappear – so what’s going on? Many teams have tried to solve this paradox, but an intriguing new idea may bring us closer to an answer. Once we develop a whole range of groundbreaking new spacecraft technology, that is.Every single year, hammer corals change their sex, swapping between male and female. While many animals, including corals, change their sex across their lifetimes, this clockwork, routine schedule is quite unusual. But it turns out a habit of change might be useful to help ensure successful reproduction in the ocean. Plus: Making lithium-ion batteries with 70 per cent less lithium – with help from AI; staving off the amphibian apocalypse with fungus-resistant frogs; and the discovery of the oldest known fossil skin.Hosts Timothy Revell and Christie Taylor discuss with guests Alex Wilkins, Grace Wade, Michael Le Page and Sophie Bushwick. To read more about these stories, visit newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
12/01/24·22m 35s

Escape Pod: #2 Alliances in matters biological, mathematical and atomical

This is a re-airing of a podcast originally released in January 2021.The theme of this episode is alliances - human, biological and atomic. We start by celebrating the amazing properties of lichen, the symbiotic relationships it forms, how it shaped the earth and simply how beautiful it is to look at.Then we explore how carbon is able to create such an incredibly diverse range of materials, including soot, diamonds and graphite.We wrap up by delving into the life of renowned Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdős, the world’s greatest human alliance maker, who wrote research papers with over 500 mathematicians.On the podcast are Rowan Hooper, Anna Demming and Timothy Revell.Find out more at newscientist.com/podcasts Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
09/01/24·17m 0s

Weekly: What’s next for science in 2024? A year of moons; weight-loss drugs; and a massive new supercomputer for Europe

#231It’s a new year and that means new science. But what (that we know so far) does 2024 hold? On the space front, agencies around the world have as many as 13 missions to Earth’s moon, while Japan’s MMX mission will launch to take samples from the Martian moon Phobos. NASA will finally launch the Europa Clipper mission to explore Jupiter’s ocean-bearing moon. On the technology front, Europe’s first ever exascale supercomputer, capable of performing billions of operations per second – only the third officially recognised such machine in the world, and an extraordinary tool for physicists, mathematicians and even AI development. Plus why we’re increasingly close to the time when quantum computers may break encryption as we know it.And while 2023 was officially the hottest year on record, 2024 is poised to be even hotter, thanks to even higher concentrations of greenhouse gases and more months of El Niño conditions in the Pacific Ocean. How this combination should leave us expecting the unexpected when it comes to drought and rainfall, while nations grapple with the renewable energy and fossil fuel transition pledges they made at 2023’s COP28 climate summit. And why the story isn’t over for hormone-mimicking weight loss injections like Ozempic and Wegovy – or the many similar drugs that are following close on their heels.Host Christie Taylor discusses all of this and more with guests Leah Crane, Matthew Sparkes, James Dinneen and Clare Wilson. To read more about these stories, visit newscientist.com/2024preview. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
05/01/24·30m 12s

Escape Pod: #1 Understanding the self-awareness of dolphins

This is a re-airing of a podcast originally released in January 2021.An episode of Escape Pod all about understanding. We start by discussing the self-awareness of dolphins and whales, and the intricacies of their language and vocalisations. Then we marvel at the seemingly impossible abilities of gymnasts and ballerinas, most notably Simone Biles who performed a legendary triple double. And then we take a look at the Chinese board game Go - a game with more possible moves than there are atoms in the universe.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Anna Demming and Timothy Revell. Find out more at newscientist.com/podcasts Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
02/01/24·21m 46s

Best of 2023, part 2: India lands on the moon; the orca uprising; birds make use of anti-bird spikes

What was your favorite science story of 2023? Was it the rise of orca-involved boat sinkings? Or maybe the successful landing of India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission at the moon’s south pole? This week, it’s the second and final part of our annual event about the best science stories of the year, with a roundup of some of the good news, animal news and all-around most important stories of 2023. Like how researchers discovered the high-tech material called graphene can also occur naturally…and did, deep in the Earth, 3 billion years ago. Or how the World Health Organization ended the global health emergency declaration for covid-19.Plus, wonders from the animal kingdom: innovative bird nests made of anti-bird spikes,  cooperation between dolphins and fishermen in Brazil and the incredible clogging power of hagfish slime.Hosts Timothy Revell and Christie Taylor discuss all of this and more with guests Clare Wilson, Sam Wong, and Leah Crane. To read more about these stories, visit newscientist.com.And if you’re still looking for more of the best stories from 2023, enjoy our best features free December 27-31. What’s behind the recent explosion in ADHD diagnoses?Is the entire universe a single quantum object?Climate change: Something strange is happening in the Pacific and we must find out whyThe civilisation myth: How new discoveries are rewriting human historyRevealed: What your thoughts look like and how they compare to others Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
29/12/23·27m 18s

CultureLab: The best books of 2023, from joyful escapism to sobering reads

Are you looking forward to catching up on some reading over the holiday season? Or perhaps you are on the prowl for book recommendations after receiving a few literary gift cards? If so, you are in luck – this episode is all about the books we think you’ll love to read.In this episode of CultureLab, culture and comment editor Alison Flood appears in her role as professional bookworm to share some of her favorite reads of the year. From a sobering story of life in the human-polluted ocean (narrated by a dolphin) to science fiction that takes you to parallel worlds, to the real story of the world’s longest study of happiness. The full list of Alison’s recommendations (and a few from host Christie Taylor) is below. Non-fictionThe Good Life: lessons from the world’s longest scientific study of happiness by Robert Waldinger and Marc SchulzBeing Human: How our biology shaped world history by Lewis DartnellOf Time and Turtles: Mending the world, shell by shattered shell by Sy MontgomeryThe Power of Trees: How ancient forests can save us if we let them by Peter WohllebenEnchantment: Reawakening wonder in an exhausted age by Katherine MayElderflora: A modern history of ancient trees by Jared FarmerThe Possibility of Life: Science, Imagination, and Our Quest for Kinship with the cosmos by Jaime GreenBreathe: Tackling the climate emergency by Sadiq KhanWasteland: The dirty truth about what we throw away, where it goes, and why it matters by Oliver Franklin-WallisFire Weather: A true story from a hotter world by John VaillantFictionIn Ascension by Martin McInnesThe Ferryman by Justin CroninBridge by Lauren BeukesThe Future by Naomi AldermanStarter Villain by John ScalziPod by Laline Paull Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
26/12/23·28m 6s

Best of 2023, part 1: Euclid telescope’s big year; AI is everywhere (for better and worse); why doctors searched their poo for tiny toys

#229Your hands are heavier than you think. Beer goggles aren’t real. And many water utilities in the United Kingdom still use dowsing to find leaks in pipes. It’s the first part of our annual best-in-show of science stories from the year, with a roundup of some of the funniest and most futuristic-feeling headlines from 2023. Like the Euclid Space Telescope’s successful start to a mission that will map the sky and offer new insights into dark matter and the very structure of the universe. And a half-synthetic yeast that might feel (half) at home in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Or how generative AI has gone so far as to flood the submissions of the magazine Clarkesworld with too many badly written science fiction stories.Plus, why a handful of doctors swallowed the heads of LEGO toys.Hosts Timothy Revell and Christie Taylor discuss all of this and more with guests Clare Wilson, Sam Wong and Leah Crane. To read more about these stories, visit newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
22/12/23·27m 9s

CultureLab: A duet between music and the natural world with Erland Cooper’s playful compositions

Composer Erland Cooper is known for playful, innovative, experimental projects. For example, he buried the only audio copy of a 2021 composition – then left treasure hunt clues for people to try to find it. Which one couple, eventually, did.In this episode of CultureLab, Cooper talks to writer Arwa Haider about his newest album, Folded Landscapes, where he is deep in conversation with the environment and our changing climate. The movements of the piece were recorded with the Scottish Ensemble chamber orchestra, in both sub-zero temperatures and a sweltering studio. He then exposed the audio master tape to the sun on the UK’s hottest day in history, in July of last year. Cooper describes encasing recording equipment in ice, recreating the acoustics of glacial caves in Norway’s Svalbard, and why he prefers a slower kind of activism in the name of celebrating and cherishing the natural world and encouraging change. Read Arwa Haider’s full piece about Cooper’s work.To read about subjects like this and much more, visit newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
19/12/23·37m 16s

Science of cannabis: #3 The weed of the future

Cannabis is one of the oldest products of human cultivation. And as it becomes increasingly legal for medical and recreational use around the world, its popularity is growing as well – even as researchers, limited by government prohibitions of the past and present, race to understand how the hundreds of chemicals in pot actually affect us and what the benefits and risks may be.But the object of all this research is itself changing: cannabis consumed today is more than ten times more potent than pot of the past. And even as we begin to understand the breathtaking environmental costs of cultivation – both legal and illicit – we’re already finding ways we might harvest its benefits without even growing a single plant. In the final episode of this three-part special series on the science of cannabis, Christie Taylor visits what the future may hold for hemp and how this plant fits into society writ large. From meaningful regulation of driving while stoned to tweaking that distinctive but controversial skunky odor and the high tech promise of making CBD in yeast.Learn more: The team at New Scientist investigates cannabis and the brain, the environmental cost of growing cannabis and other questions in this special reporting series. Visit newscientist.com/cannabis Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
17/12/23·23m 26s

Weekly: New climate deal at COP28; AI mathematician; a problem with the universe

#228We have a new, landmark climate deal, signalling the beginning of the end of fossil fuels. But even as the announcement at COP28 includes commitments for some of the most pressing issues, including giving money to countries most affected by climate change and setting goals for more renewables, some critics aren’t satisfied. With weak language around  “transitioning away from” fossil fuels, does the deal go far enough?The first ever scientific discoveries have been made by an artificial intelligence chatbot, says Google Deepmind. The company claims its new large language model FunSearch has discovered solutions to mathematical and computing problems. Why this could be a promising source of advances – even if 90 per cent of its output is essentially useless.Arctic-dwelling seals don’t just rely on their big blubbery bodies to keep warm, but their noses too. How intricate nose bones – the most intricate ever studied, in fact – help them to retain heat and moisture as they breathe. There’s a problem with the universe. At least, with our understanding of it. The way that matter clumps together on very large scales seems to be a little off, and the two main measurement methods just don’t agree with each other. While it's not unusual for there to be discrepancies with the standard model of cosmology, this issue is potentially a biggie, and could reflect significant gaps in how we understand the very stuff our universe is made of. Plus: How to stop stress from affecting sleep, what makes a “good” didgeridoo and a mind-reading cap that converts thoughts to text.Hosts Timothy Revell and Christie Taylor discuss with guests James Dinneen, Matthew Sparkes, Chen Ly and Leah Crane. To read more about these stories, visit newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
15/12/23·24m 52s

CultureLab: The Royal Flying Doctors - Saving lives in the Australian outback

The Australian outback is vast and the population is really spread out. This makes getting access to emergency healthcare incredibly challenging, as you may be a thousand kilometres or more from the nearest major hospital. The solution? Australia’s Royal Flying Doctor Service – one of the largest aeromedical organisations in the world, and, at nearly 100 years old, the first of its kind.In this bonus episode of the podcast, Australia reporter Alice Klein speaks to two RFDS team members about some of their incredible rescue operations, from saving a man who crashed his motorbike into an emu, to rescuing a child with a broken femur. She also hears the gut-wrenching tale of Michelle, who says she owes her life to the RFDS.To read about subjects like this and much more, visit newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
12/12/23·15m 43s

Science of cannabis: #2 The anatomy of a high

Human beings have cultivated cannabis for thousands of years. We have been using it for its euphoric effects for at least several thousand. And as prohibition in the United States and other nations gives way to legal, recreational use, more people are picking up pot for help with sleep, pain, or simple relaxation.But as medical and recreational use become more popular and increasingly accessible, what’s actually going on inside your body and brain when you imbibe? Cannabinoids, the chemicals in cannabis, trigger an entire system of receptors in our nervous systems, immune systems and elsewhere in our tissues. And this internal, endocannabinoid system regulates so much of our physiology that it may explain everything from the post-pot munchies…to runner’s high.In the second of this three-part special series on the science of cannabis, Christie Taylor visits the stoned mind, where memory gets hazy, time passes weirdly and creativity…maybe just feels easier to achieve. And why there’s so much we don’t know yet about how cannabis affects us, both for good and for ill.Learn more: The team at New Scientist investigates cannabis and the brain, the environmental cost of growing cannabis, and other questions in this special reporting series. Visit newscientist.com/cannabis Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
10/12/23·24m 8s

Weekly: IBM’s powerful new quantum computers; climate wins and flops at COP28; our sweet partnership with honeyguide birds

#227Quantum computing researchers at IBM have stepped up the power of their devices by a huge amount. The company’s new device Condor has more than doubled the number of quantum bits of its previous record-breaking machine, which was released just last year. This massive increase in computational power is just one of the company’s latest achievements. It has also announced Heron, a smaller quantum computer but one that’s less error-prone – and therefore more useful – than any IBM has made.We’ve seen a lot of big wins at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai, but many of them have come with caveats. From exciting commitments on loss and damage negotiations to the 120 countries that have pledged to triple their renewable energy by the end of this decade, the latest agreements bring a lot of promise. But as funding targets fall short, the world’s highest emitters sit out on certain pledges and people with financial stakes in fossil fuels negotiate pledges of their own, the summit’s success remains in flux.An antibody treatment may protect people from overdosing on the dangerous opioid drug fentanyl, even as the opioid epidemic kills more than 150 people each day in the United States. Although this treatment has not yet been tested in humans, a single infusion protects monkeys from overdose for a month. Why this new approach is so promising and could even treat addiction to the drug.Honeyguides are a type of bird that guide humans to bees' nests by responding to specific calls made by people hunting honey. It's a remarkable example of partnership between species: this cooperation means the humans get honey and the birds get a tasty snack of wax and bee larvae. Even more amazing is the finding that honeyguides respond to different calls depending on where they are in the world.Plus: A new species of hedgehog has been discovered, how self-replicating nanorobots could be used to make drugs or chemicals inside our bodies and which brain regions are involved in understanding (and enjoying) jokes.Hosts Timothy Revell and Christie Taylor discuss with guests Karmela Padavic-Callaghan, Jacob Aron, Grace Wade and Sam Wong. To read more about these stories, visit newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
08/12/23·26m 5s

CultureLab: Teaching science through cooking with Pia Sorenson’s real life ‘Lessons in Chemistry’

Did your chemistry lessons involve baking chocolate lava cakes? Have you ever wanted to eat your biology homework? While ‘Lessons in Chemistry’ brought a fictional cooking-as-chemistry story to TV viewers this fall, real-life scientist Pia Sörensen’s students are some of the few who can actually answer “yes.”Sörensen’s directs Harvard University’s Science and Cooking program, which teaches science lessons through the culinary arts. She is the author and editor of several books, including the best-seller “Science and Cooking: Physics meets Food, from Homemade to Haute Cuisine”.In this episode of CultureLab, Pia explains how understanding chemistry and biology can help us to make the perfect cheese sauce, offers up a masterclass in fermentation and teaches us what insects have to do with why your avocado goes brown – and why acids can stop the process. She also describes how to make Lutfisk, Sweden’s gelatinous answer to ceviche, an admittedly ‘acquired taste’ of a dish.To read about subjects like this and much more, visit newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
05/12/23·24m 58s

Weekly: Biggest climate summit since Paris; thanking dirt for all life on Earth; what if another star flew past our solar system?

#226This year’s COP28 could be the most important climate summit since the Paris Agreement in 2015. After opening in Dubai on Thursday, this will be the first time countries will formally take stock of climate change since agreeing to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. While we can expect world leaders to make some major commitments regarding renewable energy, sceptics are concerned the location of the summit will mean that fossil fuel interests end up disproportionately shaping the meeting.You may want to thank dirt for the evolution of life on Earth and the incredible biodiversity on the planet. We now know from computer simulations that a spike in nutrient-rich soil led to a boom in marine biodiversity millions of years ago. And thanks to plate tectonics and continental drift, that soil built up on land too and was an essential ingredient to life as we know it.What would happen to our solar system if the Sun suddenly had some competition…like if a roaming star flew too close? Would it snatch one of our planets, disrupt their orbits or send Mercury hurling towards the Sun? As researchers have found out, these and many other frightening scenarios are all possible - but thankfully not that likely. Bottlenose dolphins can sense electric fields with tiny pits in their skin and could be using them to hunt or even navigate. This new finding puts them on par with sharks, who also have this superpower. Plus: How chinstrap penguins sleep 11 hours a day, but in thousands of 4-second micro-naps. AI predicts there could be more than 2 million different ways to make a crystal. And how to pour a cup of tea as quietly as possible.Hosts Timothy Revell and Christie Taylor discuss with guests James Dinneen, Jacob Aron, Leah Crane and Chen Ly. To read more about these stories, visit newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
01/12/23·22m 8s

Science of cannabis: #1 A long history and a seismic shift

Cannabis is having a moment. Half of the US population lives in a state where marijuana is legal, and 9 in 10 people nationwide support legalisation in some form. This is a stark difference from mere decades ago, when prohibition was the norm in the entire US. Meanwhile, if you live in Malta, Uruguay, Canada – and maybe soon, Germany – your entire country is one with legal recreational pot. And access to medical marijuana extends to even more countries, including the UK and Australia.But as medical and recreational use become more popular and increasingly accessible, how exactly did we get to this moment of change? What has research been able to tell us – so far – about how the plant produces its euphoric effects, what medical purposes it may be able to serve or how it might be harmful? And how could our relationship with this unassuming leaf change in the coming decades?In the first of this three-part special series on the science of cannabis, Christie Taylor explores our deep history with cannabis, from the first domestication 12,000 years ago in Northwest China, to the current skyrocketing popularity in the United States and around the world.Learn more: The team at New Scientist investigates cannabis and the brain, the environmental cost of growing cannabis, and other questions in this special reporting series. Visit newscientist.com/cannabis Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
28/11/23·21m 34s

Weekly: Salt glaciers could host life on Mercury; brain cells that tell us when to eat; powerful cosmic ray hits Earth

#225Life on Mercury? That would be a shocking discovery. The planet is incredibly inhospitable to life… as we know it. But the discovery of salt glaciers on its surface has opened up the possibility that extremophile bacteria could be buried beneath its surface. Lucky then that the BepiColombo mission is planned to take another look at Mercury soon.Ever wondered why you can go all night without getting hungry but can’t last a few hours in the day? Well, there may be cells in our brains that tell us when it’s time to eat. A mice study found AgRP brain cells fire faster right around the time the rodents usually chow down. If this is true in humans too, it may clue us into our own hunger cues.Earth has been hit by a powerful cosmic ray, the second most powerful ever detected. This tiny subatomic particle contains a massive amount of energy and is thought to have come from a place in space called the cosmic void. How it got here is a mystery and has scientists excitedly searching for an answer.Babies are learning how to speak before they’re even born. While we know babies come to know the sound of their parents’ voices while in the womb, it turns out just hearing people talk enhances their future language skills and ability to recognise specific languages.Plus: Why one bat in Europe uses its penis as a hand, how a robot is being trained to pick up your dirty washing and why plants in Europe are more productive on the weekend.Hosts Timothy Revell and Christie Taylor discuss with guests Leah Crane, Clare Wilson, Alex Wilkins and Chen Ly. To read more about these stories, visit newscientist.com.Event:Separating the science from the hype with the latest research on cannabis. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
24/11/23·24m 20s

Dead Planets Society: #11 Cube Earth Part Two

Turning the Earth into a cube, the gift that just keeps giving. Last episode we had fish bowl spaceships, this time we have sea monsters!If you thought cubifying the Earth couldn’t get more wacky, you’re in for a treat. In the Dead Planets Society season finale, Leah Crane and Chelsea Whyte are once again joined by geophysicist Mika McKinnon. This time she explains what time would be like on a 6-faced planet, how you’d be able to experience all four seasons in a single day on Cube Earth and why this re-formed planet would spur on the evolution of some pretty strange lifeforms, including sea monsters.Dead Planets Society is a podcast that takes outlandish ideas about how to tinker with the cosmos – from punching a hole in a planet to unifying the asteroid belt to destroying the sun – and subjects them to the laws of physics to see how they fare.Your hosts are Leah Crane and Chelsea Whyte.If you have a cosmic object you’d like to figure out how to destroy, email the team at deadplanets@newscientist.com. It may just feature in a later episode… And if you just want to chat about this episode or wrecking the cosmos more generally, tweet @chelswhyte and @downhereonearth.  Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
22/11/23·14m 41s

Dead Planets Society: #10 Cube Earth Part One

This is it, the moment we’ve all been waiting for. We’ve killed the sun, smushed the asteroid belt, burrowed into other planets… but now it’s time for the big one… Earth.In this two-part season finale, Leah Crane and Chelsea Whyte do irreparable damage to our planet by turning it into a cube. Joining the pair in this mammoth task is geophysicist and disaster consultant Mika McKinnon. In this first episode Mika tackles the many life-changing knock-on effects of cubifying Earth, such as how only portions of the planet would be habitable, why we would need giant fish bowls on wheels to cross from one face to the other and why earthquakes would become the new normal.Dead Planets Society is a podcast that takes outlandish ideas about how to tinker with the cosmos – from punching a hole in a planet to unifying the asteroid belt to destroying the sun – and subjects them to the laws of physics to see how they fare.Your hosts are Leah Crane and Chelsea Whyte.If you have a cosmic object you’d like to figure out how to destroy, email the team at deadplanets@newscientist.com. It may just feature in a later episode… And if you just want to chat about this episode or wrecking the cosmos more generally, tweet @chelswhyte and @downhereonearth. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
21/11/23·18m 6s

Weekly: Saving the trees we already have; why US men are dying younger; soap bubble lasers (pew pew pew)

#224Tree planting has become an incredibly popular way of attempting to store carbon dioxide and slow global warming. But new research estimates we may be able to store huge amounts of carbon dioxide without planting any new trees at all. All we have to do is protect the ones we already have. The world’s existing forests could store up to 228 billion tonnes of carbon, but is protecting them an achievable goal?Life expectancy for everyone in the US is on the decline, but especially for men, with the “death gap” between men and women increasing dramatically in recent years. Why are men now dying nearly six years before women on average? Covid-19, opioid use, suicide and firearms are all influencing the worrisome trend.Bonobos are the peacekeepers of the primate world. While their close cousins, chimpanzees, prefer to fight with rival groups to resolve conflict, bonobos prefer to have sex – and they generally get along with members of other groups. Why some bonobos are friendlier than others, and what that might tell us about human aggression and cooperation.Physicists have created tiny lasers from soap bubbles. This whimsical sounding technological feat is surprisingly simple to recreate. With a few ingredients, you too could create a bubble laser at home. Useful for detecting electric fields and pressure changes, this could become a much more affordable way of producing sensors in the future.Plus: How 20 per cent of people who take Paxlovid, a covid-19 drug that reduces the risk of severe illness, rebound and get the virus again a few days after they stop taking it; how to seed new life on a planet by “catching” a comet; and how one artificial intelligence model has learned how to beat us at both chess and poker, and what this might say about creating more “generally” intelligent AIs.Hosts Timothy Revell and Christie Taylor discuss all of this with guests James Dinneen, Corryn Wetzel, Sam Wong and Karmela Padavic-Callaghan. To read more about these stories, visit newscientist.com.Need a listening ear? UK Samaritans: 116123; US 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: 988; hotlines in other countries.Event: Separating the science from the hype with the latest research on cannabis. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
17/11/23·28m 44s

CultureLab: Orbital - A love letter to Earth from the International Space Station, with Samantha Harvey

As astronauts look down on Earth from space, the experience is often life-altering. The “pale blue dot” looks fragile from way up there. And in the novel Orbital, we get to see our planet from the perspective of astronauts aboard the International Space Station, giving us a glimpse into why the distant view shifts their perspectives so dramatically. The book follows the team of astronauts as they observe Earth, collect meteorological data, conduct scientific experiments and test the limits of the human body. But author Samantha Harvey says she hopes Orbital is as much a painting as it is a novel, writing in expressive prose to capture the epic vistas witnessed from space each day. From glaciers and deserts, to the peaks of mountains and the swells of oceans – and even the destructive force of an intensifying typhoon. In this episode, Rowan Hooper asks Harvey about her inspirations and how she was able to so vividly capture this sense of Earth from afar. Plus a meditation on what it means, emotionally, to look at our planet from space and reckon with how we are changing it. To read about subjects like this and much more, visit newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
14/11/23·21m 2s

Weekly: Spinal cord stimulation for Parkinson’s Disease; half-synthetic yeast; harvesting the ocean’s heat for energy

#223Spinal cord stimulation has, for the first time, been used to improve the mobility of someone with Parkinson’s Disease. Marc, who has battled the condition for 30 years, once fell five to six times daily, but now is able to walk kilometres per day thanks to an array of electrodes that stimulate the movement-related neurons in his spine.  Though it was successful for Marc, the treatment is also highly customised and more research is needed before it might benefit people more broadly. In the world of synthetic biology, an international team has crafted a yeast cell with half its DNA manufactured in a lab, marking a significant step in our ability to rewrite and alter complex genomes. While yeast is already used to create useful substances such as beer and insulin, synthetic yeasts could be engineered to create an even wider variety of molecules more easily. Why yeast might be just the beginning for synthetic organisms.Can the secret to affordable, clean energy have been in the ocean all this time? Engineers are bringing a 140-year-old idea back to life, with the aim of harnessing the massive temperature difference between warm surface water and cold, deep sea water. A process known as Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) was originally proposed in the 19th century and is now being tested in some island nations. How this sustainable method works and the obstacles to its widespread adoption.New evolutionary research shows that crabs evolved to leave the ocean up to 17 different times in the 230 million years since they arose. What these crustaceans’ remarkable evolutionary flexibility might reveal about adaptability across the animal kingdom.Plus: Using tiny microphones to record happy rat squeaks, a breakthrough in underwater radio communication and a smashing fact about left-handed badminton players. Hosts Christie Taylor and Chelsea Whyte discuss all of this with guests Michael Le Page, James Dinneen and Alexandra Thompson. To read more about these stories, visit newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
10/11/23·26m 33s

Dead Planets Society: #9 Unify the Asteroid Belt

Asteroids are cool, but they’re all spread out across the solar system. Wouldn’t it be neater if we could smush them all together to make one MEGA asteroid? Maybe even an asteroid… planet.From an asteroid sausage machine to a Jell-O infused asteroid donut, Leah and Chelsea discover just how difficult and disastrous it would be to merge the asteroid belt – with one surprising silver lining. Joining them in their quest are planetary scientists Andy Rivkin of John Hopkins University, and Kathryn Volk of the University of Arizona.Dead Planets Society is a podcast that takes outlandish ideas about how to tinker with the cosmos – from punching a hole in a planet to unifying the asteroid belt to destroying the sun – and subjects them to the laws of physics to see how they fare.Your hosts are Leah Crane and Chelsea Whyte.If you have a cosmic object you’d like to figure out how to destroy, email the team at deadplanets@newscientist.com. It may just feature in a later episode… And if you just want to chat about this episode or wrecking the cosmos more generally, tweet @chelswhyte and @downhereonearth. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
07/11/23·15m 28s

Weekly: Do you really need 8 hours of sleep?; The ancient planet buried inside Earth; Starfish are just heads

#222At this point, most people have heard the accepted wisdom that you need 8 hours sleep every night, especially for a healthy brain. But what if we’ve got it all wrong? If you lie awake at night worrying about getting enough sleep, you may be in luck. A reminder that correlation is not causation, and some surprising new research into how our brains respond to lower amounts of sleep.In space news, NASA’s Lucy spacecraft has just completed a fly-by of a ‘nearby’ asteroid, in preparation for a much bigger excursion out into the solar system. Lucy’s next mission takes it to Jupiter, where it’ll be exploring the asteroids that follow in the gas giant’s orbit, and which may be fragments from early planetary formation. Also, unusual dense spots buried deep within Earth’s mantle may actually be remains of an ancient planet that collided with ours. What buried bits of ‘Theia’ might tell us about Earth’s cosmological history and the creation of our moon.The UK’s first summit to discuss the safety and security of AI and its role in society has now drawn to a close. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak brought together more than 100 delegates from 28 countries, including tech CEOs such as Elon Musk. Amid frustrations over transparency, and a lacklustre policy result, what did the summit actually achieve?Can you find the head on a starfish? Researchers investigating the animal’s genes are finding that starfish are actually just heads, and perhaps nothing else, crawling around on their lips. What this finding tells us about the way ecology and natural selection shape animal evolution.Plus: Why some flatworms are great at sex, while others can regrow their heads – and why they can’t do both at the same time. How a desert plant is adapting to low moisture environments with salty sweat. And why chimps seek out high ground to spy on their rivals.Hosts Timothy Revell and Christie Taylor discuss all of this with guests Clare Wilson, Leah Crane, Matt Sparkes and Claire Ainsworth. To read more about these stories, visit newscientist.com.Events and Links:newscientist.com/tours Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
03/11/23·26m 38s

CultureLab: Suzie Edge’s curious (and sometimes gruesome) history of famous body parts

Did you know we have King Louis XIV to thank for fistula surgeries? After surgeons worked hard to find a cure for his rear-end ailment, the operation became the height of fashion, with people queuing up to go under the knife so they could be just like their king.  That’s just one of the incredible stories from Suzie Edge’s new book Vital Organs: A History of the World’s Most Famous Body Parts. Suzie Edge is a medical historian and frequently takes to TikTok to surprise (and sometimes shock) her followers with the true health stories of famous people from the past.In this episode, Suzie explores some of the most fascinating tales from her book, including the tale of Alexis St. Martin, who became a medical curiosity after an accident left his stomach partially open to the world. She explains why she loves talking about the bodies of famous people from the past – how it makes them feel less like myths or legends, and more like real people. And she touches on our obsession with stigmatising people based on their physical appearance – how movie villains often have facial disfigurements, or how historians often blamed Kaiser Wilhelm’s warlike ways on his disabled left arm.To read about subjects like this and much more, visit newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
31/10/23·29m 48s

Weekly: Security risks of ChatGPT; do other mammals go through the menopause?; record breaking quantum computer

#221Independent researchers have found new ways that OpenAI’s ChatGPT tool can assist bad actors, from providing the code needed to hack computer databases to teaching people how to make homemade explosives. While the company continually updates security safeguards, it turns out some languages can be used to bypass these guardrails. It has long been thought that only humans and some toothed whales go through the menopause. But are there other mammals out there who experience it too? And if so, is it a rarity, or much more common than we realised? The answer may depend on how you define “menopause.”A US start-up has broken a record in quantum computing, fitting the largest ever number of qubits – or quantum bits – into its new machine, finally exceeding the 1000-qubit milestone and more than doubling the previous record. Qubits are what allow quantum computers to do their calculations, and are essential in increasing reliability and stability. Still, more qubits aren’t the only step in the quest for more practical quantum computers.Measuring self-awareness in animals usually involves a well-known mirror test, where an animal is given a mark before being placed in front of a mirror. If they touch the mark after seeing it on their reflection, they pass the test.  But few animals have passed, and it isn’t without controversy. Now, researchers using a new kind of mirror test to investigate self-awareness in chickens – who fail the classic mirror test – think they have found new evidence that the birds recognise their reflections as “self.” This might reveal self-awareness in a greater variety of animals. Plus: Perfecting vegan cheeses with the help of fermentation, smart glasses that could mimic echolocation for people who are blind and measuring the weight of the human immune system.Hosts Timothy Revell and Christie Taylor discuss all of this with guests Jeremy Hsu, Michael Le Page, Chelsea Whyte and Alex Wilkins. To read more about these stories, visit newscientist.com.Events and Links:www.newscientist.com/halloween Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
27/10/23·28m 44s

Dead Planets Society: #8 The Worst of All Worlds

Whether it’s searing heat, sapphire winds striking the sky like rain, or an atmosphere that makes your eyes pop out of your head, some planets are just horrible for life. But even though some pretty horrific planets already exist, the team is not satisfied – they want to bring all of these calamitous qualities together to design the worst of all worlds.In a special bonus edition of Dead Planets Society, recorded on stage in front of an audience at New Scientist Live, Chelsea Whyte and Leah Crane rope two guests in on their mission of destruction. Joining our hosts in their quest to make the most inhospitable planet are astrobiologist and author Lewis Dartnell at the University of Westminster and Vincent Van Eylen, professor and exoplanet researcher at University College London.Dead Planets Society is a podcast that takes outlandish ideas about how to tinker with the cosmos – from punching a hole in a planet to unifying the asteroid belt. The hosts are Leah Crane and Chelsea Whyte.If you have a cosmic object you’d like us to figure out how to destroy, email the team at deadplanets@newscientist.com. Or if you just want to chat about this episode or wrecking the cosmos more generally, tweet @chelswhyte and @downhereonearth. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
23/10/23·24m 40s

Weekly: Communicating with sleeping people; Massive marsquake; World’s smallest particle accelerator

#220When you’re asleep, you’re completely dead to the world, right? Well, it turns out we can actually communicate with people while they’re sleeping and even get them to smile or frown on command – at least some of the time., Why this window into the sleeping brain could have important implications for treating people with certain sleep-related health conditions, or even better insights into why and how we dream.In space, scientists have discovered the source of the largest ever recorded marsquake, which rattled the red planet last year. Unlike other quakes on Mars, which does not have plate tectonics to explain seismic events, this one was not the result of an asteroid impact. And the oldest fast radio burst ever detected shocks researchers – a blast with power enough to microwave a bowl of popcorn twice the size of our Sun. What both these events can tell us about unearthly environments.As a record bird flu outbreak continues to devastate bird populations across the globe, we’ve got a surprising finding about its origins. Unlike previous outbreaks, the virus currently circulating originated in Europe and Africa, not Asia. Why this geographical shift? And how can knowing its origins help prevent future outbreaks?The world’s best known particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, is the largest machine on the planet. But it turns out particle accelerators don’t need to be so big. Scientists have made a truly miniature accelerator, so small it could fit into a pen tip, which could have hugely practical benefits for medical care. Plus: How to reduce the energy footprint of massive data centres, why hitting ‘snooze’ on your alarm clock may not actually be a bad thing and how dung beetles can help us keep track of highly endangered lemurs.And if you want one final chance to win a free copy of Rob Eastaway’s Headscratchers, email your guess for this week’s puzzle to podcasts@newscientist.com, or send a voice message to hear yourself on the show.Hosts Timothy Revell and Christie Taylor discuss all of this with guests Clare Wilson, Alex Wilkins, Grace Wade and Karmela Padavic-Callaghan. To read more about these stories, visit newscientist.com.Events and Links:newscientist.com/20497 Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
20/10/23·28m 46s

CultureLab: Free will doesn’t exist? Robert Sapolsky’s vision to reshape society

Would you feel uneasy or relieved to know that free will doesn’t exist? For those who have been fortunate in life, it may feel an attack to suggest they are not captains of their own ships - that their success was down to biological and environmental chance. But for others it may feel a lot more liberating.Robert Sapolsky is an author, eminent neuroscientist and professor at Stanford University, known by many for his work studying baboons and human biology. But his latest book is much more associated with the field of philosophy. Determined: Life Without Free Will explores the notions of choice, responsibility and morality, arguing that free will does not exist and why acknowledging this should cause us to rethink the fundamentals of human society.In this episode of CultureLab, Timothy Revell asks Sapolsky why humans are so-hardwired to believe that free will does exist, how our understanding of free will has shifted over the years and whether we could avoid societal collapse if everyone began believing their actions are not their own.To read about subjects like this and much more, visit newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
17/10/23·32m 55s

Weekly: Most detailed map ever of the human brain; clash of the ice planets; are US spies weakening encryption for everyone?

#219The most detailed map yet of the human brain has been unveiled. The human brain atlas visualises the brain more precisely than we’ve ever been able to before. Cell by cell the map can illuminate how the brain is as specialised and organised as it is and how it develops throughout our lifetimes. How has this been achieved and what can we do with this new level of detail?Two distant icy planets have smashed into each other, turning them into a doughnut of vaporised rock orbiting their nearest star. It’s the first time we’ve been able to pinpoint an event like this, and it may reshape our understanding of how star systems evolve.A prominent cryptography expert is warning that one of the United States’ top intelligence agencies may be trying to weaken the next generation of encryption. When quantum computers become widespread, modern encryption will be all but useless. But as scientists work to come up with new mathematical techniques to safeguard our online data, one mathematician has claimed the National Security Agency is intentionally watering down proposed new standards for cryptographic algorithms – with potential consequences for everyone’s security.Despite being made of solid metal, Earth’s inner core is unusually soft and squishy – more like clay or rubber than cast iron. A game of high-pressure musical chairs involving iron atoms may explain it all. Plus: How Neanderthals hunted cave lions, how to make solid roads on our moon and celebrating the winner (and all the runners-up) of Fat Bear Week.And if you want the chance to win a free copy of Rob Eastaway’s Headscratchers, email your guess for this week’s puzzle to podcasts@newscientist.com, or send a voice message to hear yourself on the show.Hosts Timothy Revell and Christie Taylor discuss all of this with guests Clare Wilson, Jacob Aron, Rob Eastaway, Matthew Sparkes and Karmela Padavic-Callaghan. To read more about these stories, visit newscientist.com.Events and Links:newscientist.com/20497 Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
13/10/23·30m 40s

Dead Planets Society: #7 Halve the Moon

Leah finally takes on her arch-nemesis; the two-faced, arrogant, cold-hearted… moon. And despite her lunar love, Chelsea gets roped into the destruction. Together, they plot to crack it like an egg, vaporise it into nothingness and drill into it with a giant jackhammer… all while dodging the space police.Our space marauders recruit the assistance of astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Haym Benaroya at Rutgers University.Dead Planets Society is a podcast that takes outlandish ideas about how to tinker with the cosmos – from punching a hole in a planet to unifying the asteroid belt. The hosts are Leah Crane and Chelsea Whyte.If you have a cosmic object you’d like to figure out how to destroy, email the team at deadplanets@newscientist.com. Or if you just want to chat about this episode or wrecking the cosmos more generally, tweet @chelswhyte and @downhereonearth. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
10/10/23·21m 16s

Weekly: Big Nobels for tiny science; how Earth might make water on the Moon; the head-scratching mathematics behind your favourite puzzles

#218The 2023 Nobel Prize winners have been announced. Winners of the science prizes include two scientists who helped develop mRNA vaccines, physicists who’ve managed to generate ultra-short pulses of light to study electrons and chemists who’ve made unimaginably tiny crystals, called quantum dots. Why all these discoveries have touched our lives – and how one almost didn’t happen.We’ve got some science-based puzzles that’ll have you scratching your head… Rob Eastaway, the man behind New Scientist’s Headscratcher puzzle column, has helped author a new book of brain teasers, aptly named ‘Headscratchers’. To celebrate its launch, Rob shares a tricky clock-based puzzle to try your hand at – plus a chance to win a free copy of the book.From SpaceX to Amazon to OneWeb, the race is on to launch thousands of satellites into space, capable of providing internet access to almost anywhere in the world. But at what cost to the environment? The first study comparing the carbon footprint of these satellites is out now.Plus: How electrons from Earth may be influencing the creation of water on the moon, why chicken hatcheries in Europe are starting to sex-test unhatched chicks and why hippopotamuses are so bad at chewing their food.And a plug for our favourite feast of the year: Fat Bear Week. Hosts Timothy Revell and Christie Taylor discuss all of this with guests Clare Wilson, Alex Wilkins, Rob Eastaway, Jeremy Hsu and Corryn Wetzel. To read more about these stories, visit newscientist.com.Events and Links:The Royal Institution’s exciting autumn season of public science talks is on. To book, visit www.rigb.org/ Vote for your favourite bear for Fat Bear Week, and learn how brown bears know it’s time to bulk up.New Scientist Live tickets Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
06/10/23·34m 48s

CultureLab: Surviving the climate crisis – Michael Mann’s hopeful lessons from Earth’s deep history

Our planet has gone through a lot. If we peer into the deep history of Earth’s climate, we see ice ages, rapid warming events and mass extinctions. All of which led to the advent of humankind. But as today’s climate warms at a pace we’ve never seen before, can these past climate events tell us anything about our future?University of Pennsylvania climate scientist and activist Michael Mann explores this in his new book Our Fragile Moment, which looks at how climate change has shaped our planet and human societies for better and for worse. The big take home message is that it’s not too late to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.In this episode of CultureLab, environment reporter James Dinneen speaks to Mann about the climate extremes we’ve seen this year, what we can learn from ancient rapid warming events like the P.E.T.M (Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum) and why climate doom is now a bigger threat than denial to taking action.To read about subjects like this and much more, visit newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
02/10/23·26m 9s

Weekly: Antimatter falls down; Virtual healthcare comes with a price; What’s causing Europe’s insect apocalypse?

#217Antimatter is the counterpart to regular matter, but with an opposite electric charge, as well as other differences. So if it’s the opposite of normal matter, does it fall up instead of down? Studying antimatter is notoriously difficult, but scientists at CERN have scraped together just enough to take a closer look at its behaviour under gravity – their results are consistent with Albert Einstein’s predictions. With remote school and work during the covid-19 pandemic, it’s no wonder telehealth startups popped up all over the US. With telemedicine, you don’t even need to leave your house to get a prescription – medicine can be delivered straight to your door, a boon for people who live in remote areas or have other difficulties in accessing a doctor’s office. But does this convenience come at a price?An “apocalypse” of declining insect populations was first reported in 2017 . But what is to blame? New research finds a culprit that’s neither habitat loss nor pesticides, but something potentially more fickle.Move over cows, there’s a new ‘moo’ in town. It turns out crocodiles can moo too – African dwarf crocodiles to be exact. In an effort to monitor their populations remotely, scientists have been recording the surprising noises they make.Plus: The best crater to set up a base on the Moon, why classroom therapy dogs are so helpful and how carrots became orange.Hosts Christie Taylor and Chelsea Whyte discuss all of this with guests Alex Wilkins, Grace Wade, James Dinneen and Sofia Quaglia. To read more about these stories, visit newscientist.com.Events and Links:The Royal Institution’s exciting autumn season of public science talks is on. To book, visit www.rigb.org/New Scientist Live tickets Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
29/09/23·24m 30s

Dead Planets Society: #6 Make Venus Earth Again

Are the stresses of life getting too much? Fancy a relaxing getaway to a planet with stifling sulfuric acid clouds, choking quantities of CO2 and punishing amounts of atmospheric pressure? Yeah, neither do Chelsea and Leah. That’s why, with the help of planetary scientist Paul Byrne at Washington University in St. Louis, they’re reinventing Venus, our uninhabitable neighbour. Together, they attempt to clear the air, smash it senseless with asteroids and move it farther from the sun… all for a few quintillion dollars.Dead Planets Society is a podcast that takes outlandish ideas about how to tinker with the cosmos – from punching a hole in a planet to unifying the asteroid belt to destroying the sun – and subjects them to the laws of physics to see how they fare.Your hosts are Leah Crane and Chelsea Whyte.If you have a cosmic object you’d like us to figure out how to destroy, email the team at deadplanets@newscientist.com. It may just feature in a later episode… And if you just want to chat about this episode or wrecking the cosmos more generally, find @chelswhyte and @downhereonearth on Twitter/X. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
25/09/23·20m 41s

Weekly: First ever RNA from an extinct animal; big news about small solar system objects; “brainless” jellyfish can still learn

#216For the first time ever, a team has extracted RNA from an extinct animal. Thylacines, or Tasmanian tigers, are carnivorous marsupials that went extinct in the early 20th century. While we’ve been extracting DNA from extinct animals for years, getting their RNA has been much more difficult. What can this breakthrough tell us about the lives they led?What is consciousness and how does it work? There’s a reason this is known as “the hard problem” of neuroscience. Everyone wants an answer but only a handful of convincing theories exist. And now, one of the more compelling theories - integrated information theory, or IIT - has come under fire. Are critics right to label it ‘pseudoscience’?Eris and Makemake are two dwarf planets that orbit in the Kuiper belt in the outer reaches of our solar system. They’re small, icy objects that receive little sunlight, so we might expect them to be pretty boring – but it seems we were wrong. Why a closer look from the James Webb Space Telescope is painting an intriguing new picture, one that may include liquid water.Despite not having brains, Caribbean box jellyfish still have the capacity to learn. How are they processing the information without a centralised brain? One team thinks it could have something to do with their 24 eye-like structures. Find out how they tested this theory.Plus: A new kind of ‘reverse vaccine’ that could help people with autoimmune diseases, the earliest evidence of human ancestors building wooden structures, and counting the number of cells in a human body. Hosts Christie Taylor and Chelsea Whyte discuss all of this with guests Clare Wilson, Leah Crane and Corryn Wetzel. To read more about these stories, visit newscientist.com.Events and Links:New Scientist Live tickets Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
22/09/23·25m 3s

CultureLab: Real Life Supervillains - John Scalzi on the science of volcano lairs and sentient dolphin minions

You’re in the volcano lair of an evil supervillain, hellbent on taking over the world. In anger, he hurls one of his minions into the molten lava bubbling beneath them, as the unfortunate lacky swiftly sinks into the river of molten rock. If you’ve ever watched a James Bond-esque film, you’ll be able to picture the scene. The problem is - the science doesn’t stack up.John Scalzi is an American science fiction author, and in his new book ‘Starter Villain’ he injects a dose of realism into many classic tropes about villains, humorously poking holes in some of the flaws of logic we see on TV - including their penchant for volcano lairs. They’re still useful, just maybe not in the way you’d think. The novel follows the journey of Charlie, who is unwittingly thrust into the dangerous world of supervillains, forced to take up his late uncle’s mantle.In this episode of CultureLab, Christie Taylor asks Scalzi what an evil mastermind would actually look like in the real world, why the genetically engineered dolphins in his book are such jerks and how he gets away with leaving some of the science unexplained.To read about subjects like this and much more, visit newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
18/09/23·22m 11s

Weekly: Science that makes you laugh (and think); black holes behaving badly; drumming cockatoos

#215A smart toilet with a camera inside that analyses your poop, plus a study of people who are fluent in speaking backwards – these are just two recipients of this year’s Ig Nobel prize. As the satirical sister to the Nobel prize, the Ig Nobels honour scientific achievements that make people laugh…then think. Prize founder Marc Abrahams on this year’s hilarious winners - and why even robots made from reanimating dead spiders can have a more serious side.As the winter approaches in the northern hemisphere, updated versions of the covid-19 vaccine are being rolled out in many countries. Should you be lining up for your next booster? And a sneak peak at a new, more effective twist on Moderna’s mRNA vaccines.Meanwhile, in the early universe, the James Webb Space Telescope has spotted ancient supermassive black holes that are much larger, relative to their galaxies, than we see in younger galaxies. A tantalising finding for astronomers who believe these anomalies could be evidence of a new kind of black hole. And did you know that palm cockatoos are totally rock ’n’ roll? Not only do they drum, but they even craft their own drumsticks. Find out about their unique musical abilities, and what this says about their intelligence.Hosts Timothy Revell and Christie Taylor discuss all of this with guests Marc Abrahams, Michael Le Page, Alex Wilkins and Chen Ly. To read more about these stories, visit newscientist.com.Events and Links:New Scientist Live tickets Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
15/09/23·28m 50s

Dead Planets Society: #5 The Return of Pluto

Join Leah and Chelsea as they belatedly mourn the loss of Pluto as a planet. Back in 2006, Pluto was demoted to “dwarf planet”, sparking widespread outrage… a decision the team is still determined to reverse.Special guests are Kathryn Volk of the University of Arizona and Konstantin Batygin of the California Institute of Technology, who discuss several approaches to boosting Pluto’s status, from helping it pack on the pounds, to dragging it into the inner solar system, to sabotaging one of its neighbours…Dead Planets Society is a podcast that takes outlandish ideas about how to tinker with the cosmos – from punching a hole in a planet to unifying the asteroid belt to destroying the sun – and subjects them to the laws of physics to see how they fare.Your hosts are Leah Crane and Chelsea Whyte.If you have a cosmic object you’d like to figure out how to destroy, email the team at deadplanets@newscientist.com. It may just feature in a later episode… And if you just want to chat about this episode or wrecking the cosmos more generally, tweet @chelswhyte and @downhereonearth. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
11/09/23·21m 52s

Weekly: New type of brain cell; Alaska’s first bridge over a moving glacier; quantum batteries that never age

#214A multi-talented brain cell has been discovered – and it’s a hybrid of the two we already know about, neurons and glia. These glutamatergic astrocytes could provide insights into our brain health and function, and even enable treatments for conditions like Parkinsons.Building a bridge over a moving glacier is no mean feat. But rising global temperatures have thawed the permafrost in Denali National Park in Alaska, causing its only access road to sink. A bridge may be the only way to continue access to the park’s beautiful wilderness. Rather than waiting around for hours for your electric car to charge, imagine doing it near instantaneously. That’s the promise of quantum batteries. Although we’re not quite at that stage yet, researchers may have found a way to make quantum batteries that charge wirelessly and last forever.Could the armies of ancient China owe their success to their… shoes? Researchers have been studying the feet of The Terracotta Army, a massive collection of statues that depict the armies of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang. Humans and other great apes have incredibly flexible shoulder and elbow joints. Unusually, this is not a trait shared by our monkey cousins. Why the difference? And what are the pros and cons of this extra mobility?Plus: How to grow human kidneys in pigs without making pig-human hybrids and the mystery of a super-bright space explosion.Hosts Timothy Revell and Christie Taylor discuss all of this with guests Alec Luhn, Karmela Padavic-Callaghan, Chen Ly and Sam Wong. To read more about these stories, visit newscientist.com.Events and Links:New Scientist Live tickets Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
08/09/23·29m 23s

CultureLab: The weird ways animals sense the world – Ed Yong on his book An Immense World

Whether it’s the hidden colours of ultraviolet that bees can see, the complex rhythms and tones of birdsong that we’re unable to hear, or the way a dog can smell the past in incredible detail, the way humans experience the world is not the only way.Every animal has its own ‘umwelt’ – a unique sensory experience that allows it to perceive the world differently. As humans we can barely begin to understand what the world looks like to many of the other creatures that inhabit the Earth. But author Ed Yong is helping to paint a picture…In this episode of CultureLab, Christie Taylor speaks to Ed about the paperback release of his book An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us, which looks at more than 100 different species and explores the amazing ways their sensory worlds are shaped by light, sound, vibrations, heat and even electrical charge.To read about subjects like this and much more, visit newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
05/09/23·34m 4s

Weekly: Our ancestors nearly went extinct?; Why beer goggles aren’t real; Smelling ancient Egyptian perfume

#213Our ancestors may have very nearly gone extinct. Around a million years ago, there were just 1300 humans left and it stayed that way for over a hundred thousand years. This is the dramatic claim of research into the genetic diversity of our early ancestors – though some scientists disagree with the conclusions.Despite being completely paralysed and unable to speak, Rodney Gorham can still communicate… by typing messages with his mind. Rodney is one of the first people in the world to use a new type of brain computer interface. The company behind it, Synchron, is focusing on medical uses like this for brain implants, rather than more outlandish superhuman technology.Ever wondered what a 3000-year-old mummified noblewoman would’ve smelled like? Wonder no more! Scientists have recreated the exact scent of an ancient Egyptian woman’s perfume – giving them a fascinating insight into millenia-old burial traditions and early trading.Beer goggles; when you’ve drunk just enough alcohol that everyone starts to look more attractive. It’s a well-known phenomenon, but is it actually real? A study that got its participants a little tipsy has some answers.Plus: How tall people have more diverse gut microbiomes, why a meteor that crashed on Earth in 2014 may – or may not –  be an interstellar visitor from outside our solar system and how pirate spiders catch their prey.Hosts Timothy Revell and Christie Taylor discuss all of this with guests Michael Le Page, Jeremy Hsu, Sofia Quaglia and Chen Ly. To read more about these stories, you can subscribe to New Scientist at newscientist.com.Events and Links:Dead Planets Society Episode 4New Scientist Live tickets Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
01/09/23·27m 2s

Dead Planets Society #4: Asteroid Gong

In an unexpected twist of empathy, Leah and Chelsea are putting their heads together to save the Earth… yes, you read that right!Asteroid researcher and planetary astronomer Andy Rivkin of John Hopkins University joins them to discuss the myriad ways in which we could deflect, destroy or intercept asteroids headed towards Earth. Among the team’s suggestions: a humongous net (a world-wide-web?), a gigantic gong… and Bruce Willis.Dead Planets Society is a podcast that takes outlandish ideas about how to tinker with the cosmos – from punching a hole in a planet to unifying the asteroid belt to destroying the sun – and subjects them to the laws of physics to see how they fare.Your hosts are Leah Crane and Chelsea Whyte.Check out Leah’s asteroid Armageddon story here.If you have a cosmic object you’d like to figure out how to destroy, email the team at deadplanets@newscientist.com. It may just feature in a later episode… And if you just want to chat about this episode or wrecking the cosmos more generally, tweet @chelswhyte and @downhereonearth. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
28/08/23·14m 3s

Weekly: India lands on the moon; Placenta cells could heal the heart; Mind-altering drugs and binge drinking on the rise

#212India is celebrating after successfully - and gently - landing on the Moon. A huge win for the country, which is now only the fourth nation to do so. A look at the country’s next ambitions after a historic touchdown. Plus why Russia’s rival mission ended in disaster, and the future of lunar exploration worldwide. Cells found in placentas may be able to treat heart attacks. Researchers were first clued into this amazing healing capability after two pregnant women spontaneously recovered from heart failure. What clinical research in mice can tell us so far. Use of psychedelics and other mind-altering drugs is booming in US adults under 55, with marijuana use breaking records. But why is substance use on the rise, and does this mean people are turning away from alcohol?Artificial intelligence could help us detect tsunamis earlier, and perhaps help save lives in the process. How ocean disturbances can travel as far as the Earth’s ionosphere, where GPS satellites can detect them.   Plus: How turtle shells can store the historical record of nuclear activity, how dog poo is making the Norwegian tundra greener and how coffee grounds can make concrete almost 30% stronger.Hosts Christie Taylor and Chelsea Whyte discuss all of this with guests Leah Crane, Alice Klein, Grace Wade and Jeremy Hsu. To read more about these stories, you can subscribe to New Scientist at newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
25/08/23·25m 58s

CultureLab: Must watch science shows – the best TV of 2023

Struggling to choose what to watch? Whether it’s sci-fi, medical dramas or documentaries about the natural world, we’ve got you covered. Our TV columnist Bethan Ackerley shares a rundown of her top TV choices from 2023 so far, as well as what to look out for the rest of the year. Reviews of some of the shows featured in this episode:  Foundation (Apple TV)The Last Of Us (HBO Max and Sky Atlantic)Best Interests (Sky Go, Amazon, Apple TV)Wild Isles (BBC iPlayer, Amazon)Dead Ringers (Amazon)Silo (Apple TV)To read all of Bethan’s TV columns visit newscientist.com/author/bethan-ackerley Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
22/08/23·28m 15s

Weekly: Climate Special - an antidote for doom; plus the key ingredient for alien technology, and surprising revelations about an ancient tattooed mummy

#211The hottest July on record, a global surge in wildfires, bleached corals and collapsed cactuses - the story of climate change feels dire right now. But before you bury your head in the sand or succumb to doom and gloom - a dose of reality and hope. In this climate special, a look at how our record-setting year fits the predictions, the incredible good news about the global energy transition and an appeal to the power of our decisions to make a difference in the future.  There’s a new covid-19 variant in town - EG.5 or “Eris”. What you need to know as cases rise around the world.Why haven’t we heard from intelligent alien life yet? It might not be down to their lack of intelligence, but rather their lack of the key ingredient for technology as we know it – oxygen. Plus: He might be 5300 years old, but we’re still learning new things about Ötzi, Europe’s oldest known naturally preserved (and tattooed) mummy; how AI has recreated a classic rock song by reading people’s minds; and a lampshade that removes air pollution from your home. Hosts Timothy Revell and Christie Taylor discuss all of this with guests James Dinneen, Michael Le Page, Alexandra Thompson and Alex Wilkins. To read about these subjects and to check out the magazine’s version of the climate special, you can subscribe to New Scientist at newscientist.com.Grab the UK release ofTimothy’s new book, The Secret Lives of Numbers, here. (Out in the US in January). Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
18/08/23·32m 49s

Dead Planets Society #3: Gravitational Wave Apocalypse

As if burrowing through a planet and blowing up the sun weren’t enough… This time, Chelsea and Leah hope to harness the power of gravitational waves to destroy everything we know and love. Christopher Berry at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO)  explains how they could create their own gravitational waves using a bespoke black hole machine, and helps them understand how to control such a device for their nefarious purposes…Dead Planets Society is a podcast that takes outlandish ideas about how to tinker with the cosmos – from punching a hole in a planet to unifying the asteroid belt to destroying the sun – and subjects them to the laws of physics to see how they fare.Your hosts are Leah Crane and Chelsea Whyte.If you have a cosmic object you’d like to figure out how to destroy, email the team at deadplanets@newscientist.com. It may just feature in a later episode… And if you just want to chat about this episode or wrecking the cosmos more generally, tweet @chelswhyte and @downhereonearth. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
14/08/23·16m 18s

Weekly: Ultra-processed foods not so bad?; Another milestone toward fusion power; Mapping the genes we know nothing about

#210Ultra-processed foods are bad for us and we should avoid them at all costs – right? Well, it’s actually not as clear cut as that.The foods may actually form a much more important part of healthy diets than we release.  Nuclear fusion, which could some day offer a low-waste source of clean power, is one step closer to becoming viable. Last year scientists managed to get more power out of a fusion reactor than they put in – a huge breakthrough for the technology. And this year they’ve done one better, squeezing even more power out of it.There’s a lot that’s “unknome” about the human genome. More than 20 years since we discovered humans have just 20,000 different genes, we still don’t have a clue what thousands of them even do. A project is now finally looking at the proteins that science forgot.We’re getting 70s space race vibes. Russia has launched its first mission to the moon in nearly 50 years – just behind India’s Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft, which entered lunar orbit earlier this week. With both heading to the moon’s south pole, who’s going to get there first?Plus: a potential vaccine for the virus that causes mononucleosis – often called “the kissing disease” – and is linked to multiple sclerosis; whether robots are better than humans at the very CAPTCHA tests designed to block robots; and the slightly gross treasure hiding in 200-million-year-old fossilised poop.Hosts Timothy Revell and Chelsea Whyte discuss all of this with guests Grace Wade, Matt Sparkes, Michael Le Page and Leah Crane. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist at newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
11/08/23·25m 51s

CultureLab: Adventures of a prehistoric girl – Alice Roberts on her new book Wolf Road

Scientist and broadcaster Alice Roberts has written her first children’s book. The fictional tale follows prehistoric girl Tuuli, and captures the story of her encounter with a strange boy who leads her on a great adventure.Inspired by her own experiences trekking through the arctic, the book imagines what life would’ve been like for humans of the time, how they might’ve interacted with neanderthals and grapples with questions like: how were the first wolves domesticated?In this episode of CultureLab, New Scientist’s comment and culture editor Alison Flood, and her 10-year-old daughter Jenny, ask Alice about the inspiration for the book and the science behind it.To read about subjects like this and much more, visit newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
07/08/23·19m 55s

Weekly: Surprise superconductor claims put to the test; Alzheimer’s test goes on sale; how NASA (briefly) lost Voyager 2

#209The saga of the room-temperature superconductor continues. The creators of a new material called LK-99 maintain that it perfectly conducts electricity at room temperature and pressure and so other scientists are racing to try to test it for themselves. If the findings are true it would be transformative to science and technology. It’s not just researchers, however, who are testing the material, citizen scientists are also trying to create it at home. Early results are now in.There’s a plan to pump millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the seafloor off Canada’s west coast, but some worry that this could trigger earthquakes. A new study works out just how likely that would be.Earth to Voyager, this is NASA – do you copy? NASA has lost contact with the Voyager 2 space probe but all is not lost. The team discusses the future of the mission, as well as that the Euclid space telescope has just come online and started sending back its first images.A blood test for Alzheimer’s has gone on sale that may indicate your risk of developing the disease before symptoms show. But how accurate is the test? And if you find out you’re at risk, is there anything you can do about it? Plus: How the foundations of your house could store energy, how the Maillard reaction – responsible for the deliciousness of toast – can happen on the ocean floor, and the discovery of the world’s oldest jellyfish fossil.Hosts Timothy Revell and Christie Taylor discuss all of this with guests Karmela Padavic-Callaghan, Clare Wilson, Leah Crane and James Dinneen. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
04/08/23·32m 32s

Dead Planets Society #2: Punch A Hole in a Planet

In this episode of Dead Planets Society, Leah and Chelsea embark on a boring journey… no, as in they literally try to bore through a planet! With the help of planetary scientists,  Baptiste Journaux of the University of Washington and Konstantin Batygin of the California Institute of Technology, our hosts drill down into the science of achieving this momentous task, discussing which planets are perfect for perforation, how to deal with melting drill bits, and catapulting a whale to outer space…Tune in to find out if they get to the core of the issue… or if the pressure will be too much. Dead Planets Society is a podcast that takes outlandish ideas about how to tinker with the cosmos – from punching a hole in a planet to unifying the asteroid belt to destroying the sun – and subjects them to the laws of physics to see how they fare.Your hosts are Leah Crane and Chelsea Whyte.If you have a cosmic object you’d like to figure out how to destroy, email the team at deadplanets@newscientist.com. It may just feature in a later episode… And if you just want to chat about this episode or wrecking the cosmos more generally, tweet @chelswhyte and @downhereonearth. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
31/07/23·21m 17s

Weekly: Cheaper cures for many diseases; How to understand the superconductor ‘breakthrough’; Hear a star twinkle

New Scientist Weekly #208Better and cheaper treatments for everything from sickle cell disease to ageing should come as a result of a new technique for delivering mRNA to blood stem cells. The technique has been adapted from the technology in mRNA covid-19 vaccines and could even be used for doping in sport.Controversial claims of a superconductor that works at room temperature and pressure have ignited heated discussion this week. Such a finding would be revolutionary, with implications for transport, medical science and even nuclear fusion. But is it too early to celebrate this new discovery?Scientists are scrambling to save coral in the Florida Keys, where record sea temperatures are threatening the entire ecosystem. The coral and their symbiotic algae are being moved using a “coral bus” to off-shore nurseries in the hope of reestablishing them after the heat wanes. Genetic research could be instrumental in saving the reefs.Ever wondered what a star’s twinkle sounds like? Astronomer Evan Anders has developed a new way of modelling the movement of gases inside stars, giving us a glimpse (with our ears) at how they are built on the inside, how they spend their lives and evolve…Most of us are heavy-handed when it comes to estimating the weight of our… hands, something researchers have struggled to put their finger on. The strange phenomenon, where we misjudge the weight of our own body parts, could have an evolutionary explanation.Hosts Christie Taylor and Sam Wong discuss all of this with guests Michael Le Page, Karmela Padavic-Callaghan, Sofia Quaglia and Jason Murugesu. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
28/07/23·27m 27s

CultureLab: Oppenheimer – The rise and fall of the “father of the atomic bomb”

First J. Robert Oppenheimer created the weapon, then he fought for years to warn of its dangers. During the second world war, the so-called “father of the atomic bomb”, led a team of scientists in the US in a race against Nazi Germany to create the first nuclear weapon. Then it was used to kill thousands in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan.In Oppenheimer, Christopher Nolan’s new 3-hour blockbuster, the film focuses on the years that followed and how the physicist’s campaigning ultimately led to his downfall.In this episode of CultureLab, Christie Taylor speaks to Kai Bird, a journalist and historian who co-authored the book that was the main source material for Nolan’s film – American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer.To read about subjects like this and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com.Links and info:Check out our review of Oppenheimer, by Simon Ings. Kai Bird on exonerating Oppenheimer.The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists commemorating Oppenheimer’s death (1967) Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
24/07/23·25m 22s

Weekly: How to measure consciousness; Nature-made graphene; New sabretooth cats

New Scientist Weekly #206A major theory of consciousness is being put to the test with brain scans. Integrated information theory proposes a value called "phi" to represent consciousness and in a new experiment, it seems to work. Does the discovery bring us any closer to solving the elusive “hard problem” of neuroscience? Graphene has been hailed as a super material since its synthesis in 2004. But, unbeknownst to us, nature has long-been producing graphene, right under our noses. Understanding natural graphene production could revolutionise the way we create this remarkable material.A roarsome discovery of two previously unknown sabre-toothed cat species in South Africa provides insights into their cheetah-like and leopard-like lifestyles. The finding challenges our long-held beliefs about these ancient felines. Could chargrilled mushrooms be the key to fireproofing our homes? A team in Melbourne, Australia, unveiled a fire-resistant material created from the mycelium of edible mushrooms this week. With remarkable flame resistance and environmentally-friendly properties, the approach looks promising. Finally, some intriguing space discoveries, including the Janus star, with its unique hydrogen-helium split surface, a giant exoplanet called PDS 70b, which reveals a potential sibling forming in its orbit, marking the first time two planets have been found to share an orbit, and the LEGO robot creating DNA machines.Hosts Timothy Revell and Christie Taylor discuss all of this with guests Clare Wilkins, Corryn Wetzel and Alex Wilkins. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com. Events and links: To listen to the first episode of our new podcast, The Dead Planets Society, click the link here.To find out more about our 2024 Polar Tours, visit https://www.newscientist.com/tours/  Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
21/07/23·30m 2s

Dead Planets Society #1: Kill The Sun

The sun is the centre of our solar system, the parent body to all the planets, unquestionably the most important cosmic object for life on Earth. But what if we were to destroy it?It turns out that is easier said than done. In the premier episode of the Dead Planets Society podcast, our hosts Leah Crane and Chelsea Whyte resort to extreme methods in their quest to put out the sun. They learn that adding a giant ball of water to the equation will only provide more fuel for the fire, stretching the sun into long noodle-like ribbons is only a temporary solution, and that there are no earthly weapons with enough power to take it out or force it to go supernova. They speak with planetary scientist Paul Byrne about the absurd methods we might use to quench our star and how these would play out if they were possible in real life. They are shooting for the stars, quite literally, and the consequences for Earth and the entire solar system are dire. Dead Planets Society is a podcast that takes outlandish ideas about how to tinker with the cosmos – from punching a hole in a planet to unifying the asteroid belt to destroying the sun – and subjects them to the laws of physics to see how they fare.To listen, subscribe to New Scientist Weekly or visit our podcast page here.  Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
17/07/23·19m 44s

Weekly: JWST’s amazing year; Giant sloth jewellery; $1million mathematics prize

New Scientist Weekly #205Following a year of incredible, awe-inspiring images from deep space, the team is celebrating the 1st birthday of the James Webb Space Telescope. They reflect on the amazing discoveries so far, and look at how JWST will alter our understanding of the universe.From this summer, the International Seabed Authority will be considering licences for deep sea mining, despite the fact that no set of rules has been agreed upon to govern it. At this critical time, the team explores new research that’s showing just how damaging it could be to mine the seabed. Are the precious minerals worth the risk?One million dollars is being thrown at a decades old mathematical problem which has proved surprisingly controversial over the years. The team explains how the ABC conjecture has split the mathematical community, and how substantial cash prizes could end the debate once and for all.Sloths once came in a giant variety, and were as big as grizzly bears. These giant sloths died out 10,000 years ago but new archaeological evidence suggests humans were making jewellery out of their bones – giving us a new understanding of when humans first arrived in the Americas.CRISPR to the rescue! Making paper isn’t the most environmentally friendly process, but CRISPR gene editing (the hero promised to solve many issues) can apparently help here too. The team explains how it involves modifying trees to make them easier to process.On the pod are Timothy Revell, Christie Taylor, Leah Crane, Chen Ly and Corryn Wetzel. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com. Events and links: AI Unleashed 10 for 10 Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
14/07/23·29m 14s

CultureLab: Earth’s Deep History: Chris Packham on the epic and tumultuous story of our planet

Our world has led a long, sometimes tumultuous, and always complicated life. Over the last four billion years, Earth’s geology has changed radically and dramatically.Earth, a new five-part BBC documentary narrated by naturalist Chris Packham, tells the story of this change by looking at significant moments in the planet’s history - from the dramatic moment when nearly all life on Earth was wiped out, to the end of the dinosaurs and the rise of humanity.In this episode, Chris explains why he was drawn to working on the series, explores issues of human-driven climate change and biodiversity loss, and explains the perhaps counterintuitive role that romance plays in science.To read about subjects like this and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
11/07/23·19m 54s

Weekly: Earth breaks heat records; Quantum LiDAR for self-driving cars; Cryptography in pre-Viking runic writing

New Scientist Weekly #203July has become a record-busting month. In fact, this month has seen the hottest global average temperatures ever recorded on Earth. With heat waves hitting the US and the UK coast, the team finds out what’s driving temperatures to such extremes.Driverless cars could someday go quantum. LiDAR, a light-detection device used in driverless cars to help them navigate, could be replaced by quantum light, or photons. The team explains how this would make driverless cars better at navigating the streets and more resilient against ‘attacks.’Encrypted runic writing from the 7th Century has been discovered in Norway, becoming the oldest evidence of cryptography in an ancient civilization. But can the team crack the code?What is a healthy weight? Most people look to their BMI (Body Mass Index) for answers - but can we trust it? The team explains why our definition of overweight may be wrong - and how this isn’t the first time BMI has been challenged.Ready for your mind to be melted? It turns out time ran 5 times slower in the early universe than it does today. Time dilation was predicted by Einstein, and as the team explains, we’ve now finally been able to prove it. On the pod are Timothy Revell, Christie Taylor, Clare Wilson, Madeleine Cuff and Karmela Padavic-Callaghan. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com. Events and links: Yili: www.newscientist.com/yili Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
07/07/23·24m 19s

Weekly: New era in gravitational astronomy; Upending stereotypes of women in hunter-gatherer societies; Orangutan beatboxing and human speech origins

New Scientist Weekly #202In a potentially era-defining scientific breakthrough, we are now able to detect some of the biggest objects in the cosmos. Researchers have figured out how to use gravitational waves and dead stars to locate supermassive black holes. The team says this discovery could revolutionise our understanding of the origins of the universe.It’s often assumed that men in hunter-gatherer societies did the hunting, and women did the gathering. But that’s just plain wrong. Archaeological finds and evidence from present day hunter-gatherer societies paint a completely different picture. As the team explains, not only did women hunt, but it’s likely they did it carrying children on their backs!Can orangutans beatbox? Not quite - but they’re not far off! The team shares the sounds of a “kiss-squeak”, a noise as complex as beatboxing, which orangutans can do effortlessly. Adriano Lameira from the University of Warwick explains what this tells us about our primate cousins and the origins of human speech.Magic mushrooms have brought religious leaders closer to the divine, in a new experiment looking at the effects of psychedelics. This is one of the projects highlighted at the world’s biggest conference on the science of psychedelics in Denver, Colorado. Grace Wade shares the latest from the conference.Did you know some companies use artificial intelligence to sort through job applicants? While this can help streamline the hiring process, AI algorithms are notoriously biased, and could be making sexist or racist decisions. The team discusses a new law in New York City which aims to tackle the issue.On the pod are Timothy Revell, Christie Taylor, Grace Wade, Alex Wilkins and Michael Le Page. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com. Events and links: New Scientist Live: https://live.newscientist.com/ Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
30/06/23·30m 15s

Weekly: The truth behind the orca uprising; Earth enters uncharted territory; genetic treatments for unborn babies.

New Scientist Weekly #201A new therapy is being used to treat a rare genetic disorder in babies, before they’ve even been born. The condition, called X-linked ectodermal dysplasia, which only affects boys, leaves them with few teeth, sparse hair and no sweat glands. The team learns about a groundbreaking technique which delivers a key protein to the fetus through the amniotic fluid.With extreme marine heatwaves currently hitting the UK and Ireland - and as temperatures climb with the arrival of El Niño - 2023 is shaping up to be the hottest year on record. The team discuss the contribution of climate change to the heat, but end on a glimmer of good news. The orcas are revolting! Or are they really… You may have seen reports of the ‘orca uprising’ on social media, as killer whales have been filmed ‘attacking’ sailboats off the coast of Portugal and Spain. But are these really orchestrated acts of revenge, as some theories suggest?Rogue stars that escaped from the Andromeda galaxy could now be whizzing through our own galaxy - the Milky Way. But how did they get here? The team hears how these super-fast stars may have been slingshotted across the universe. The question is - can we find any of these exiles?During the COP15 biodiversity summit, countries agreed to the 30x30 target - to protect and restore 30% of land and sea on the planet by 2030. It’s been 6 months - so, has anything actually been achieved? Are we on course to reach that target? Rowan speaks to Alex Antonelli, professor of biodiversity and director of science at Kew Gardens in London, who’s also on an advisory group for the Convention on Biological Diversity.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Christie Taylor, Madeleine Cuff, Clare Wilson and Corryn Wetzel. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com. Events and links: New Scientist Neanderthals tour: newscientist.com/neanderthalfranceNew Scientist Book Club: https://www.newscientist.com/article-topic/new-scientist-book-club/ Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
22/06/23·29m 39s

Weekly: Claims that secret alien technology is held in the US; link between gut bacteria and intelligence; the parasite that makes ants live longer

New Scientist Weekly #200Always trust your gut! A recent study shows that the composition of our gut microbiome may be directly linked to our overall intelligence, with certain bacteria, perhaps, influencing brain size; other bacteria, not so much. Alexandra Thompson discusses these remarkable findings with the team. Cephalopods have some extraordinary capabilities, and new research conducted by Joshua Rosenthal at Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory in Massachusetts reveals that they can even edit their genetic material in order to survive changes in their environment. Amid these findings, Rowan and Clare wonder if gene editing is linked to octopus intelligence…The secret to a longer life? A parasitic worm - if you are an ant, at least. Parasitologists have discovered a tapeworm that invades its host ant, allowing the latter to live at least three times longer, all whilst being fed and cared for by its uninfected friends. The worm’s ultimate goal, however, is somewhat less appealing.Just say no? So-called ‘smart drugs’ such as Ritalin are widely prescribed to those suffering from ADHD. They’re also sometimes used by people seeking a mental boost. But as Clare informs Rowan, unless prescribed, Ritalin probably won’t do you any good.Former US intelligence official David Grusch claims that the US government has retrieved alien spacecraft and is harbouring the bodies of extraterrestrials which piloted it. But the team shares a healthy dose of scepticism.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Clare Wilson, Alexandra Thompson, Leah Crane and Michael Le Page. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com. Events and links: New Scientist Live ticketsSupernova used to detect alien communication Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
15/06/23·22m 7s

#199 Being Human: Lewis Dartnell on how our biology shapes our actions

Are humans the product of their environment, or do we shape the world around us? Lewis Dartnell, author of a series of books which explores this very question, sits down with culture and comment editor Alison Flood to discuss his most recent publication, Being Human.Lewis delves into the extraordinary role played by our biology in driving our behaviours and shaping our history. By re-examining elements of our daily lives that we commonly accept without question, he offers a fresh perspective, viewing them through the prism of our evolutionary journey.To read about subjects like this and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
13/06/23·18m 14s

#198 Giant: An opera about the legacy of the ‘Irish giant’ Charles Byrne and the surgeon John Hunter

Welcome to CultureLab, from New Scientist podcasts. In this episode, culture and comment editor Alison Flood speaks with composer Sarah Angliss. Sarah has written a new opera called Giant, which is based on the true story of the 18th-century “Irish giant” Charles Byrne, who had an undiagnosed benign tumour of his pituitary gland which caused him to grow to be 2.31m tall. Byrne’s corpse was stolen and later put on public display by the surgeon John Hunter, despite his explicit wishes to be buried at sea. Giant premieres in June at the Aldeburgh Festival, 240 years since Byrne’s death.To read about subjects like this and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
08/06/23·20m 52s

#197 Ancient human Homo naledi had advanced culture; AI passes the world’s biggest Turing Test; climate change hits New York

A species of ancient human with a brain the size of a chimpanzee’s is upending what we thought we knew about human cognition and culture. Recent findings from Lee Berger and his team of palaeontologists suggest our extinct relative, Homo naledi, may have engraved symbols on cave walls and deliberately buried its dead. These people lived some 300,000 years ago and the team discusses the dramatic new findings.Air quality across northern parts of the United States, including New York City, has reached dangerous levels following record-breaking wildfires in Canada. The team in London chat with New York-based reporter James Dinneen about the implications of climate-change-induced events like these. Think a flower can’t be scary? Think again! Rowan meets botanical horticulturalist Arnau Ribera-Tort at Kew Gardens in London to discuss the beautiful and ghoulish Ghost Orchid - a plant with no leaves and sheet-white flowers that appear to float in mid-air, and which is blooming in the UK for the first time. Pregnancy sickness is not just unpleasant, it can be dangerous. But new findings are bringing us closer to putting an end to this nauseating part of pregnancy. A large recent study further supports the idea that the hormone responsible for pregnancy sickness, GDF15, may also be the key to preventing it.Finally, Clare and Rowan discuss the growing need for AI to self-identify as non-human, with Chatbots becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish from people…On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Clare Wilson, Alice Klein, Michael Le Page and James Dinneen. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
08/06/23·29m 7s

#196 Animal Liberation Now: Peter Singer on eating and living ethically

What does it mean to eat and live ethically in today’s world? In 1975, Australian philosopher Peter Singer published his landmark book Animal Liberation, in which he advocated for a vegan diet and the improved treatment of animals, sparking a global movement for animal rights. Almost 50 years on, amid scientific and ethical advancements, Singer has released an updated version of his book: Animal Liberation Now.New Scientist reporter Madeleine Cuff asks Singer how his views on eating ethically have changed, particularly as the science around climate change has solidified.To read about subjects like this and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
05/06/23·28m 19s

#195 Breakthrough in suspended animation; treatment using stem cells from umbilical cord; moon dust threat

Suspended animation - the stuff of science-fiction, or a real-world solution to surviving long voyages into deep space? Actually it’s neither, but researchers have now successfully induced hibernation in mice and rats, suggesting that the same may be possible for humans... The team explores what this could mean for future medical treatments.Sand martins – known as bank swallows in North America - have returned to their breeding grounds. Ornithologist Bill Haines takes Rowan under his wing at the London Wetland Centre and introduces him to these remarkable tunnel-digging birds…Wharton earth…? New research shows that Wharton Jelly, the stem-cell-rich goo found in umbilical cords can have important therapeutic benefits for those suffering from certain autoimmune diseases. The team discusses its recent success in treating Type 1 Diabetes. The Clarion-Clipperton Zone, deep in the Pacific Ocean, is of great interest to biologists and industrialists alike, as it is home to thousands of previously-unknown marine species… and replete with the likes of nickel, cobalt, copper, titanium and rare earth elements. As Matt explains, many of these species could be lost to deep-sea mining before we have a chance to discover them all.Finally, the team discusses a major nuisance to lunar travel: moon dust! Moon landings will kick up millions of these tiny, razor-sharp particles, even blasting them out of lunar orbit where they could pose a risk to orbiting space stations. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Chelsea Whyte, Michael Le Page, Alexandra Thompson and Matt Sparkes. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
01/06/23·23m 50s

#194 Rewilding special: a night in the beaver pen at the rewilded Knepp Estate

The world is undergoing a catastrophic biodiversity crisis, and the UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. The problems are big, but there are solutions. On this special episode of the show, host Rowan Hooper reports from the Knepp Estate in southern England, a large estate owned by Isabella Tree and Charlie Burrell, who have become pioneers in the rewilding movement. Rowan spent the night wild camping in the beaver enclosure and being serenaded by nightingales. He speaks with Isabella and Charlie about their new book, The Book of Wilding; to beaver reintroduction expert Derek Gow about the magic of this keystone species, and to ecologist Andy Hector of the University of Oxford. To hear a livestream of the sounds of nature from Knepp, listen to Wilding Radio here.To read about subjects like this and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
26/05/23·31m 43s

#193 Drug that could cure obesity; world’s largest organism; octopus dreams; mood-enhancing non-alcoholic drink

A new class of drugs that can reliably help you lose weight are generating great excitement in the fight against obesity - and Elon Musk and Hollywood actors have been using them too. Weight-loss scientists have developed hormone-mimicking injections that can reduce body fat by 20 per cent... and the team discuss how it works.  The world’s largest organism is not the blue whale. In fact, Pando the aspen grove in Utah weighs 35 times more than a blue whale and has lived for thousands of years. The team discovers why this incredible life form - a forest of genetically identical, connected trees - may now be at risk, and thanks to sound artist Jeff Rice, we get to experience how it may “hear” the world around it. We’ve all seen our sleeping pups run in mid-air as they dream of chasing squirrels, but did you know that octopuses dream too? And, as the team learns, by observing one very special octopus, scientists now believe they also have nightmares.Reaching out to aliens… could we trust them? The team discusses some of the concerns around making contact and suggests some fantastic reads on the subject.Always struggled with “Dry January”? Your prayers may finally have been answered. Sam Wong tests a new type of non-alcoholic drink… that still gets you tipsy. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Clare Wilson, Michael Le Page, Alison Flood and Sam Wong. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com.Events and discount codes:bookclub@newscientist.comnewscientist.com/nslpod Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
25/05/23·28m 40s

#192 Life-extending mutation; Kangaroo poo transplant for cows; irregular sleep linked to increased risk of death

Want to live 20 percent longer? Well, it may be possible in the future thanks to a new discovery. A life-extending mutation has been found in mice, and the team explains how its benefits can be transferred by transplanting blood stem cells. But will it work in humans?Cows’ burps are a big problem for global warming - but could kangaroo poo be the solution? We hear about a novel new idea to replace the bacteria in cows’ stomachs.A special kind of particle that can remember its past has been created using a quantum computer. The team explains the mind-bending qualities of this non-Abelian anyon, and how its creation could serve as a building block for advanced quantum computers.A new study has linked irregular sleeping patterns with an increased risk of death. The team finds out what’s going on.Climate change may have broken a link between desert grasslands and the Pacific Ocean. We learn how this severed connection is impacting biodiversity in North America’s Chihuahuan desert.On the pod are Chelsea Whyte, Sam Wong, Michael Le Page, James Dinneen, Alexandra Thompson and Alex Wilkins. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com.Events and discount codes:newscientist.com/wondersofspace Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
18/05/23·18m 13s

#191 Special episode: the most mind-bending concepts in science

On this bonus episode of the podcast we present a guide on how to think about some of the most important and mind-bending concepts in science, from artificial intelligence to mental health, from nutrition to virtual particles. It all comes from a special How To Think About issue of New Scientist that is out now – the team discuss some of the things it covers. Other topics include consciousness, wormholes, ageing, origins of life, quantum gravity, and even happiness. Make yourself happy subscribing to our podcast and by checking out the special issue.On the show this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Dan Cossins, Cat de Lange, Abby Beal and Clare Wilson. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
11/05/23·18m 2s

#190 Problems for lab-grown meat; do we need vitamin D supplements?; waking the sleeping Arctic ocean; fish sing for Eurovision

Lab-grown meat may be cruelty free, but is it really better for the environment? Not at the moment. In fact, the team finds out how it’s up to 25 times worse than normal meat. And with prices still astronomically high, will it ever become a viable replacement?Are we waking up the sleeping Arctic ocean? Melting sea ice from rising global temperatures is having a knock on effect on one of the Arctic’s major ocean currents, the Beaufort Gyre. Rowan speaks to earth scientists Harry Heorton and Michel Tsamados of University College London, authors of a new paper looking at the changes to the gyre. Rowan asks them whether we’re approaching a climate tipping point where changes become self-perpetuating and irreversible.In the unlikely event that you have ever wondered what a church organ would sound like if it was played on another planet - wonder no more! Thanks to Timothy Leighton, professor of ultrasonics at the University of Southampton, we get to hear a church organ as it would sound on Mars, Jupiter and Venus. The team explains how this work might come in handy during future missions to these planets.When it comes to sharing their food, chimps are just like 4 year-old kids. The team finds out about a new study which clues us into the evolution of altruism in apes.Vitamin D supplementation has been the subject of a lot of controversy. Do we need to take them or not? The team highlights a new kind of study which shows how vitamin D can help fight off certain diseases. And the team signs off the show by playing a genius entry to this year’s Eurovision song contest - EuroFISHion, a track recorded with hydrophones at the SeaLife London Aquarium.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Clare Wilson and Alice Klein. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com.Events and discount codes:newscientist.com/spacetelescope Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
11/05/23·27m 44s

#189 Spinal cord stimulation: bringing movement back to paralysed stroke survivors

Spinal cord stimulation has, for the first time, been shown to help two people with upper body paralysis due to stroke regain some arm movement. To find out how this groundbreaking technology works, New Scientist health reporter Grace Wade speaks to two researchers who helped conduct this research - Nikhil Verma at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Erynn Sorensen at the University of Pittsburgh.She also speaks to Heather, one of the study’s participants, who explains the emotional moment when she was able to open and close her hand for the first time in a decade.To read about subjects like this and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
04/05/23·22m 32s

#188 Consciousness measured at point of death; the lifeform with seven genomes; impact of Covid on the gut

From bright lights at the end of a tunnel, to hearing dead loved ones, there are many common sensations related to near death experiences. But what’s going on in the brain to cause them? The team hears about a signal measured in the brains of people just before they died.Aliens may make contact with Earth as early as 2029. That’s the theory at least. The team explains how some of NASA’s deep space spacecraft could be used to beam back messages from distant planets.For the first time an organism has been discovered with seven entirely distinct genomes inside it. The team finds out about this record breaking cryptomonad alga.Covid-19 could be wreaking havoc on our gut microbiome, explaining why so many people experience gastrointestinal symptoms while infected. The team finds out how the disease is interacting with the gut, and whether there are any long term effects.Alpha male elephant seals with the largest harems die younger than those with fewer females. Listen to the sounds of their territorial grunts as the team finds out what’s going on.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Clare Wilson, Alexandra Thompson and Michael Le Page. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com.Events and discount codes:newscientist.com/rewildingnewscientist.com/universeweekend Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
04/05/23·21m 32s

#187 CultureLab: The Power of Trees with Peter Wohlleben

As humans are responsible for the devastation of the world’s forests, surely it’s our job, then, to step in and make things right? Well, not according to German forester and best-selling author Peter Wohlleben.In his latest book ‘The Power of Trees’, he argues that forestry management, tree planting, and the exploitation of old growth forests is ecologically disastrous, and that trees and forests need to be left to heal themselves.In this episode of CultureLab, New Scientist culture and comment editor Alison Flood asks Peter about the book, and why he believes forests have the capacity to deal with climate change on their own.To read about subjects like this and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
28/04/23·13m 21s

#186 Private space company crashes on the moon; hypnotherapy as anaesthetic; record-breaking ocean warming; Rosalind Franklin and DNA

With SpaceX’s Starship blowing up, and ispace’s lander crashing into the moon, in the last week two of the most exciting missions of the year have failed. The team finds out what went wrong, and how long it’ll be until these missions can try again.Fish farts and genital stridulation - the team shares a beautiful underwater soundscape of British ponds, recorded using a hydrophone. They learn about the daily acoustic activity cycles of ponds, and find out why researchers are collecting these sounds.Hypnosis is becoming a more mainstream part of surgery, with patients being eased into operations with suggestive language and calming phrases. The team finds out how it’s helping to supplement normal anaesthetics, reducing pain and anxiety.2024 may be the year we breach 1.5 degrees of global warming. Despite dramatic weather events over the last few years, the Earth has actually been in a cooling period called La Niña. So as we enter an El Niño, a period of warming, the team says we should brace for more intense, record-breaking heat. It comes as ocean warming hits new, and very concerning highs.Was Rosalind Franklin really the “wronged heroine” of DNA? Did Francis Crick and James Watson really swindle her out of her share of the credit for the breakthrough discovery of DNA’s double helix structure? That’s what Watson’s famous book ‘The Double Helix’ would have you believe. But Rowan speaks to biologist Matthew Cobb who sheds new light on what really happened.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Leah Crane, Madeleine Cuff and Clare Wilson. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com.Events and discount codes:Great Mysteries of PhysicsRoyal College of Anaesthetists self-hypnosis scripts Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
27/04/23·28m 30s

#185 CultureLab: Cosmo Sheldrake on capturing the sounds of our oceans

Have you ever stopped to think about what life underwater sounds like? Well, now is your chance to hear it first-hand as multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer, Cosmo Sheldrake, has released a collection of music composed entirely out of recordings from our oceans and the animals that inhabit them. 'Wild Wet World' has been a decade in the making and features the sounds of humpback whales singing, oyster toadfish grunting and haddock drumming. In this episode of the CultureLab podcast from New Scientist, Bethan Ackerley speaks to Cosmo about some of the complexities of piecing together the album and how he hopes it will help to raise awareness about the impact of noise pollution on our oceans. To read about subjects like this and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
26/04/23·19m 10s

#184 Dead Ringers TV review: Revolutionising the future of reproductive health

Based on the 1988 David Cronenberg film, the new six-part TV series Dead Ringers tells the story of identical twin doctors - played by Rachel Weisz - as they explore innovations in childbirth and fertility.In this bonus episode of the podcast, our TV columnist Bethan Ackerley speaks to the show's lead writer, Alice Birch, about how she took on Cronenberg’s twisted tale, why it was important to include graphic and realistic depictions of birth in the series, and about the emerging medical technologies that play a part in the show.To read about subjects like this and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
23/04/23·13m 51s

#183 How To Blow Up A Pipeline film review: Is it time for more radical climate activism?

With action on climate change moving so slowly, is it time for more radical activism? Have we been left with no option but to use sabotage and property destruction as a way to protect our planet? Those are the questions a new film, How To Blow Up A Pipeline, aims to get you thinking about. Based on the nonfiction book of the same name by Swedish academic Andreas Malm, the film leaves viewers questioning whether sabotaging an oil pipeline is a logical form of climate activism. In this bonus episode of the podcast, host Rowan Hooper speaks to the film’s director Daniel Goldhaber, lead actor/co-screenwriter Ariela Barer, and the movie editor Daniel Garber. Rowan’s interview with Andreas Malm can be heard here.To read about subjects like this and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
20/04/23·18m 13s

#182 3D-printing inside living organisms; what ChatGPT means for human intelligence; why insects fly towards light; carbon storage in the oceans

We’ve all seen the moths gather around the kitchen light or campfire flame at night, but have you ever wondered why they’re drawn to it? Well, there are loads of theories, but the team explores a brand new one which suggests insects don’t come seeking the light, but are instead imprisoned by it.Life finds a way. Even amid the vast swathe of plastic and junk in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, creatures have set up home, thousands of miles from their natural habitats. Is this a reassuring sign of adaptability, or do we need to be worried?Our cyborg future is upon us. It may be early stages, but the team finds out about a new experiment which has, for the first time, printed conductive material inside a living organism. This material may one day be used to create working circuits and implants inside the body.The ocean is a massive carbon sink - but can we enhance its effects? The team discusses a concept called ocean alkalinisation, which aims to boost carbon storage by dumping a load of alkaline material into the sea. An experimental project is set to test the theory soon - but is it safe?With the rise of AI large language models like GPT-4 and Bard, will we begin to see them rival human level intelligence - or will an entirely new type of intelligence emerge? As a taste of New Scientist’s special issue on the AI Revolution, we hear from Melanie Mitchell, professor of complexity at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Madeleine Cuff, Michael Le Page and Alex Wilkins. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com.Events and discount codes:Lyma: Laser therapy research Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
20/04/23·28m 22s

#181 New York goes quantum; a tipping point in human culture; JUICE mission to Jupiter

How many people can we physically feed on Earth? As the global population is predicted to reach 11 billion by the end of the century, do we have enough land to feed all those mouths? The team discusses the safest ways to feed the world, and finds out the absolute limit of Earth’s capacity.You know those fetching tunics Stone Age people wore? Well, we may have figured out how they stitched them together. The team discusses the discovery of a 40,000 year old horse (or bison) bone, and what it tells us about a vital tipping point in human cultural evolution.An unhackable quantum internet is being constructed in New York City. While this isn’t the first quantum network ever built, the team explains how this particular experiment is bringing us closer than ever before to a quantum internet we can all use.This episode goes live on launch day of the European Space Agency’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer - JUICE. The mission will stop by Ganymede, Callisto and Europa, and the team explains what they’ll be looking for. Sadly you’ll have to wait 8 years before you can check back into the podcast for the next update though…And we hear a report from Abby Beall who’s been stargazing in the Atacama Desert in Chile on a New Scientist Discovery tour. She speaks to Elke Schulz, who runs stargazing tours nearby and is trying to get her valley recognised as a dark sky sanctuary.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Leah Crane, Madeleine Cuff, Alison George, Karmela Padavic Callaghan and Abby Beall. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com.Events and discount codes:New Scientist Live early bird tickets: newscientist.com/nspodcast  Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
13/04/23·29m 55s

#180 Maximum human lifespan; a twist on a classic physics experiment; saving the kākāpō

How long can a human live for? The world record is 122 years, and while some people believe our bodies aren’t capable of surpassing that, a new theory suggests we could see the record broken in a decade’s time. The team explains how this could be possible.An upgraded version of the classic double-slit experiment has observed how light interacts through differences in time rather than space. Researchers used a special type of material in the experiment, which the team says could be used to make time crystals.Nutritional deficiencies, tuberculosis and self harm - child asylum seekers in Australian detention centres have experienced dire living conditions. The team finds out about the impact of these centres on their health and lessons that other countries could learn.The incredible kākāpō is our life form of the week. The team explains how researchers are trying to save this endangered, flightless bird by looking at the preserved poo of their ancestors.And it’s been discovered that giving your brain a good work-out can ramp up its waste disposal system - something we thought only happened when we sleep. The team explains how this finding may be useful for preventing neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s.On the pod are Penny Sarchet, Sam Wong, Leah Crane, Alice Klein and Clare Wilson. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com.Events and discount codes:Use the code NEWSCIENTIST at historyhit.com to get a free month’s subscription. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
06/04/23·21m 31s

#179 Black holes older than time; nine animals to save the climate; the largest creature ever to walk the Earth

Sea otters, American bison and grey wolves are among nine groups of animals that could help fight climate change. The team discusses the various attributes that make these groups particularly impactful, and they explain what we’d need to do to help populations grow.An ancient supermassive black hole that formed in the early moments of the universe has been spotted by the James Webb Space Telescope. The team explains how it might’ve formed so early into the universe’s existence - and they discuss the mind-boggling prospect of black holes that are older than the universe.An immense sauropod dinosaur, Patagotitan mayorum, the largest known land-animal of all time, is currently towering above visitors to London’s Natural History Museum. Rowan went to see the incredible beast up close, and asks palaeontologist Paul Barrett how sauropods got so big.A newly discovered “hat” has mathematicians all excited. For the first time, researchers have found a single shape that can be used to cover a surface without ever creating a repeating pattern. The team explains the shape, which apparently looks like a hat, and what it might be used for.Many of the problems we face in the world today are caused by our inability to think about the long-term future. But in this modern world where we’re forced to think short-term, how do we escape this trap? Rowan asks Richard Fisher for help - he’s just released a book titled The Long View: Why we need to transform how the world sees time.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Chelsea Whyte, Alex Wilkins and Sam Wong. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com.Events and discount codes:New Scientist Fermilab event: newscientist.com/fermilab Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
30/03/23·31m 1s

#178 Botox affects your understanding of emotions; GPT-4 exhibits human-level intelligence; IPCC climate change report 2023

As countries continue dragging their feet on emissions reductions, the latest  synthesis report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is another call to arms, warning of catastrophic impacts of climate change. The team digs into the report and asks whether the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C is now beyond reach.ChatGPT’s successor GPT-4 is here, and excitement is brewing as the language model has begun to demonstrate signs of artificial general intelligence, when machines demonstrate flexible ability to tackle different tasks. From passing law examinations to coding entire websites, the team explains what GPT-4 is capable of, and why it may have begun a paradigm shift in the world of machine learning.For Lifeform of the Week, the team hear that garden dormice glow in the dark. After shining UV light on some dormice, researchers have found they emit a bright red glow, and their feet and nose shine blue-green. The team finds out what’s going on and why they might have evolved this skill.It’s no surprise that it’s harder to read the emotions of people who’ve had Botox. What is surprising is that people who’ve had Botox find it harder to read other people’s emotions, too. The team explains how this could come down to something called the ‘facial feedback hypothesis’.Despite being ridiculously cold to the point where chemical reactions struggle to get going, Saturn’s moon Titan may still be able to develop life thanks to a strange quantum phenomenon. The team learns about the bizarre effect of quantum tunnelling.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Michael Le Page, Alex Wilkins, Alice Klein and Leah Crane . To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com.Events and discount codes:New Scientist Tours: newscientist.com/tours Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
23/03/23·28m 24s

#177 Field report from the High Arctic: polar bears and melting glaciers in Svalbard

In this bonus episode, join host Rowan Hooper as he ventures to Svalbard, the Norwegian archipelago in the far north, just 1000 km from the North Pole. The Arctic is warming far faster than any other region on the planet, making Svalbard an incredible natural laboratory to study climate change, and particularly, melting glaciers. Svalbard is also home to a large population of the world’s largest land carnivore, the polar bear. Rowan speaks with Jon Aars of the Norwegian Polar Institute about the fate of this spectacular predator. To read about subjects like this and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
21/03/23·17m 43s

#176 Human organoids are new AI frontier; Listening to the big bang through the cosmic microwave background

Brainoids - tiny clumps of human brain cells - are being turned into living artificial intelligence machines, capable of carrying out tasks like solving complex equations. The team finds out how these brain organoids compare to normal computer-based AIs, and they explore the ethics of it all.Sickle cell disease is now curable, thanks to a pioneering trial with CRISPR gene editing. The team shares the story of a woman whose life has been transformed by the treatment.We can now hear the sound of the afterglow of the big bang, the radiation in the universe known as the cosmic microwave background. The team shares the eerie piece that has been transposed for human ears, named by researchers The Echo of Eternity.Artificial intelligence can now read our minds…under a very specific set of circumstances. The team looks at a mindblowing new study which feels very sci-fi.Pop legend and environmentalist Feargal Sharkey makes a cameo to highlight the campaign New Scientist is running in collaboration with the i newspaper, to draw attention to the shocking state of Britain’s rivers. Great apes like to twirl around like ballerinas. As the team finds out, it turns out it’s not just humans who like to spin around and make themselves dizzy, it’s fun for many other species of ape too.Bonnie Garmus, author of the bestselling novel Lessons In Chemistry, speaks to comment and culture editor Alison Flood about the success of her debut novel. She explains the inspiration behind her protagonist and why she made her a chemist. And she discusses fan-favourite character Six-Thirty the dog and the intelligence of animals.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Michael Le Page and Alison Flood. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com.Events and discount codes:NS JWST Event: newscientist.com/jwt Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
16/03/23·28m 0s

#175 Living Off-Earth: Ethical questions for living in outer space with Erika Nesvold

Whether it’s on the Moon, Mars or somewhere even more distant, we may see human settlements in space in our lifetime. But when we do, will we be prepared?Alongside all the concerns of whether we should even be considering moving out to space, there are a lot of ethical considerations that need to be thought about too. How do you govern the new societies you’re forging? How do you hold the leaders accountable? How do we learn from and avoid the mistakes we’ve made on Earth? In this bonus episode of the podcast, Leah Crane speaks to astrophysicist Erika Nesvold, who tackles these issues in her new book Off-Earth: Ethical Questions and Quandaries for Living in Outer Space.To read about subjects like this and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
15/03/23·25m 24s

#174 Finding the universe’s missing matter; saving babies’ lives by sequencing their genomes; the earliest horse riders - the latest news in science

Matter we’ve long thought missing from galaxies has finally been found. Great news…except there’s one catch. It turns out that perhaps this matter should be missing, based on our understanding of the way young galaxies form. So what’s going on? The team finds out where and how this matter was found, and what it means for our understanding of galaxies.A life-saving trial is sequencing the entire genomes of extremely sick babies. The team learns how the trial worked, and hears from one mother whose son made a remarkable recovery after being born with a rare life-threatening disease.You know that low creaky sound you make when you drop your voice low? That’s called vocal fry, and it turns out some whales can do it too. The team shares the sounds of a sperm whale using vocal fry during echo location, which explains how they’re able to make these sounds in deep water.Norovirus is spreading rapidly in the UK, with reported cases higher in England than they’ve been in a decade. The team finds out what’s caused this spike in cases of the ‘winter vomiting bug’.Horse riding may have begun as far back as 5000 years ago. New bone evidence suggests that the earliest known horse riders may have been members of the Yamnaya tribe. The team discusses whether horse riding may have been behind the success of the Yamnaya, who expanded across Europe around this time.On the pod are Penny Sarchet, Chelsea Whyte, Alexandra Thompson, Clare Wilson, Leah Crane and Alice Klein. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com.Events and discount codes:Inside the future of epilepsy therapy article: newscientist.com/epilepsyNS Discovery tour: newscientist.com/toursFermilab event: https://www.newscientist.com/science-events/solving-the-mysteries-of-matter-and-energy-space-and-time/ Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
09/03/23·26m 31s

#173 Understanding chronic health conditions; Artificial sweetener linked to heart attacks; Re-thinking galaxies; UN geoengineering report

As millions of people around the world suffer from long covid, research into how viruses trigger chronic health conditions is getting a lot more focus. The team explores the role of viruses in both chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, and touch on our latest understanding of long covid.Our understanding of how galaxies form could be entirely wrong. Huge young galaxies seen by the James Webb Space Telescope seem far too massive to have formed so early on in the universe’s history. The team explains how this could completely upend our models of the universe.Sharpshooter insects shoot so much urine out of their “anal catapult” they can make it rain. The team explains why this extraordinary species of leafhopper has developed this unusual superpower.Erythritol, a sweetener found in many low calorie food products, has been linked to blood clots and heart attacks. The team examines various studies that show these links, and asks whether we need to avoid eating the sweetener all together.Calls are growing for more research into solar geoengineering to stave off climate change. This week 67 researchers signed an open letter calling for more research on the potential methods. Rowan speaks to Jim Haywood, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Exeter, about ways to reduce the amount of sunlight getting to the planet, including stratospheric aerosol injection and marine cloud brightening. Jim is one of the authors of a new UN Environment Program Report called One Atmosphere: An Independent Expert Review on Solar Radiation Modification Research and Deployment.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Clare Wilson, Jacob Aron, Sam Wong and Mike Marshall. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com.Events and discount codes:Instant Expert Brain event newscientist.com/yourbrain Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
02/03/23·28m 27s

#172 Bio-electric special: how the electricity inside you shapes your body and your health

On this bonus episode of the podcast, host Rowan Hooper sits down with New Scientist magazine editor Cat de Lange, and science journalist Sally Adee to talk about the wonders of the electrome: the natural electricity that courses through our bodies. Most of us know that we rely on bioelectricity in our brains and nervous systems, for processing information and sending signals to and from the brain, but bioelectricity also plays vital roles how we develop in the womb and how our bodies heal after injury. Bioelectricity is linked to various illnesses, and if it goes wrong, deformity and cancer can result. On the pod, Sally talks about how we can learn to control this bioelectricity.Sally has written this week’s magazine cover story, The amazing ways electricity in your body shapes you and your health, and her book, We Are Electric, The New Science of Our Body’s Electrome, has just been published.To read about subjects like this and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
28/02/23·17m 31s

#171 Earth’s mysterious “dark biome” and the search for life on Mars; Quantum computers; Judge Dredd predicts the future - the latest news in science

While testing samples in the Atacama desert, a region of Earth with very similar rocks to those on Mars, astrobiologists have discovered a mysterious “dark biome” of organisms we’ve never seen before. With sample missions taking place on Mars itself, the team discusses what we might find.Bow and arrows were first used in Europe much earlier than we thought. 54,000 year old arrowheads have been discovered in a rock shelter in the south of France. The team finds out what they were used for, and about the ingenious way researchers confirmed these stone points were actually arrowheads.A new trick could allow quantum computers to run programs that should be too big for them. The team explains the method that could let small quantum computers run AI programs that would usually require too much computing power for them to handle.To cope with the looming threat of sea level rise, residents of the 1190 islands of the Maldives may need to huddle on just 2 islands in the near future. The team explains how they’d need to build high-rise apartment blocks and skyscraper offices to cope with climate change.From violent suppression of protest to the rise of the surveillance state, many stories from Judge Dredd, the future cop from British comic 2000AD, have proved eerily prophetic. Rowan speaks to writer and comics journalist Michael Molcher about his new book ‘I Am The Law: How Judge Dredd Predicted Our Future’, in which he argues key Dredd stories from the last 45 years provide a unique wake up call about our gradual slide towards authoritarian policing.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Leah Crane, Karmela Padavic-Callaghan, Michael Le Page and Madeleine Cuff. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com.Events and discount codes:Fermilab event: newscientist.com/fermilab Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
23/02/23·24m 41s

#170 How Venice is confronting climate change and adapting to the rising seas

Venice, Italy, is often voted the world’s most beautiful city. Built across 120 small islands in a shallow lagoon, it’s been an important financial and cultural centre for over a thousand years. But it faces an existential threat from sea level rise caused by climate change.Rowan Hooper visits the city’s new water defence system – a €6 billion sea barrier designed to defend Venice against high tides. But what does the barrier mean for the ecology of the lagoon, and what about people living on coasts around the world who don’t have the protection of a sea wall or barrier?In a special episode of the podcast, Rowan discusses these issues with Ignazio Musu, professor of environmental economics at Venice International University, and Swenja Surminski, professor of climate adaptation at the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics.To read about subjects like this and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
20/02/23·22m 42s

#169 Why the US is shooting down UFOs; the science behind period cravings; saving the UK’s rivers

The UK’s rivers are in a dire state. Full of sewage, chemicals and prescription drugs, life in our rivers is suffering. New Scientist has teamed up with the i newspaper to launch the Save Britain’s Rivers campaign to raise awareness of the issue and get changes in the law. The team explores the problem, which includes question marks over illegal activity, and explains the aims of the campaign.UFOs are on our radar, quite literally, as US fighter jets have suddenly been tasked with blowing them out of the sky over North America. But why now? The team explains how this hunt for flying objects was started by a suspicious Chinese balloon.Can love be measured? While we may never figure out exactly what it is, a team of researchers has come up with a way of measuring where in the world people are most loved-up. From a list of 45 countries, the team shares the official winners and losers.Did you know there may be an evolutionary advantage to having curly hair? The team shares the findings of the first study to examine hair type from an evolutionary perspective.Why do some women get cravings for certain foods during their period? The team discuss a study of cis-women suggesting that inflammation could key us into what’s going on, and why cravings vary. Also, don’t miss our investigation of the vaginal microbiome - what an ecosystem!On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Graham Lawton, Alice Klein, Jeremy Hsu, Alexandra Thompson and Daniel Capurro. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com.Events and discount codes:US Online Event: newscientist.com/health3New Scientist tours: newscientist.com/tours Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
16/02/23·28m 41s

#168 Polar Sounds: Rare underwater noises from the Arctic and Antarctic

Hear the chattering sounds of a narwhal, the surprisingly tuneful tones of singing sea ice, and the alarming crashes of ice shelves collapsing in this special bonus episode of the podcast. These rare noises, captured by hydrophones in the Arctic and Antarctic, paint a fascinating image of two of our planet’s lesser-known regions. Rowan Hooper catches up with Stuart Fowkes, the founder of Cities and Memory, one of the world’s biggest sounds projects, which has joined forces with scientists and musicians to present these sounds, and to interpret them.To read about subjects like this and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
13/02/23·17m 19s

#167 Bird flu in mammals, the cause of sunquakes, and the entropy of consciousness – the latest news in science

The continuing avian flu epidemic is devastating bird populations. And now there are concerns over increasing numbers of mammals becoming infected. As reports rise, the team finds out whether this strain of bird flu may begin to pose a bigger threat to humans.Everyone’s jumping on the AI chat bandwagon. As ChatGPT continues to make headlines, two big companies have just announced their contributions to the field. The team explains how both Google and Baidu are looking to change search engines as we know them with their AI models Bard and Ernie.A new discovery has advanced our understanding of consciousness. It turns out that our brains produce less entropy when we’re asleep than when we’re awake. The team explains what’s going on.Mysterious sunquakes may be caused by weird beams of electrons from solar flares. It’s long been debated whether flares could cause these ripples on the Sun’s surface, but the team looks at new research on the connection between the two.A collection of rarely heard sounds recorded in the Arctic and Antarctic have been released as part of a project called Cities and Memories. The team shares the Clanger-like whistles of weddell seals and the chain-sawing sounds of crabeater seals. If you like what you hear, there’s a bonus episode coming up with loads more sounds.On the pod are Penny Sarchet, Timothy Revell, Matt Sparkes, Madeleine Cuff and Karmela Padavic-Callaghan. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com.Events and discount codes:February sale: newscientist.com/febsale2023New Scientist tours: newscientist.com/tours  Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
09/02/23·19m 52s

#166 Immune systems: Is yours weak or strong and how can you boost your immune system to fight disease?

The immune system is the intricate constellation of cells and molecules in our bodies that defends us against disease and on this special bonus episode of New Scientist Weekly we delve into the latest science on how the immune system works.Why do some people never seem to get ill? What was the effect of covid lockdowns on our immune system? Is it really possible to boost your immune system through eating certain foods? Do you have a naturally strong or weak immune system? And how can we engineer the immune system to seek and destroy cancers that have evaded treatment?Discussing these issues are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Helen Thomson, Penny Sarchet and Michael Le Page. These stories and much more are explored in a special edition of New Scientist magazine, also available to download on our app. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
07/02/23·29m 56s

#165 Water dowsing to detect leaks; Astroforge going asteroid mining; AI discovers new bacteria-killing proteins – the latest news in science

An ancient and debunked method of searching for water leaks is still being used by some of the UK’s water companies. The team finds out why water dowsing is still in practice, despite being scientifically discredited. But they also find out how it might actually work - just not in the way you think.People have sometimes complained that the chimps in the various Planet of the Apes films have unrealistic eyes - because they have whites around the iris, like humans. But it turns out real chimps actually do have whites too. We thought this white sclera was only a human thing - but as Rowan finds out, we were wrong.An artificial intelligence called ProGen has designed bacteria-killing synthetic proteins, some of which actually work when inserted into cells. The team suggests this is a “short-cut to evolution” and is very promising for the development of new antibiotics.Asteroid mining tech is being tested in space in April by satellite construction company AstroForge. Rowan speaks with their co-founder to hear what they’re hoping to achieve, and discusses the company’s second mission planned for later this year, when they’ll be doing a flyby of a near-Earth asteroid to look for platinum.If you look up at the sky you may just see a rare green comet flying by. Comet C/2022 only heads this way every 50,000 years, so the team explains how you can seize the opportunity to see it for yourself.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Matt Sparkes, Abby Beal and Karmela Padavic-Callaghan. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com.Events and discount codes:January sale: newscientist.com/jansale2023Secrets of the Large Hadron Collider event: newscientist.com/lhc Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
02/02/23·24m 59s

#164 The Last of Us: the science of a fungal zombie apocalypse

The new HBO series The Last of Us is making waves, raking in a steady stream of high reviews. Based on a game of the same name, it’s set in a world where a parasitic fungus called Cordyceps has mutated to infect and zombify humans.In this bonus episode of the podcast, Bethan Ackerley asks if this could actually happen in real life. She’s joined by fungal pathogens expert Professor Matthew Fisher of Imperial College London. To read about these subjects, Beth’s review of The Last of Us, and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
30/01/23·18m 35s

#163 Antidepressants; Exoplanets; California’s megadroughts – the latest news in science

A vaccine for the respiratory virus RSV may be ready this year. In fact, after decades of efforts, successful vaccines have arrived like buses, with three of them on the way. As a particularly devastating virus for young children and the elderly, the team explains just how impactful these new vaccines will be.You may have read headlines that Earth’s core is changing direction - but the team explains why it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. They also bring less-than-thrilling news for the existence of life in the universe, as we may have been overestimating how many planets are out there that have the right conditions for life.Following intense rainfall, floods and disaster declarations, California finally has a dry forecast. But, the team asks, has all this water helped ease the State’s worst-in-a-century drought? And will we see more of these dramatic swings in weather as climate change worsens?Science has shown what most people who take antidepressants already know - that they blunt both bad and good emotions. The team explores the implications of this new study.You may be noticing a few bonus episodes popping up in your feed lately. The team shares a teaser of the latest ones, including a discussion about ‘tipping points’ with climate scientist Tim Lenton, and a chat with fungal pathogen expert Mat Fisher about the new fungal horror TV show The Last of Us.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, James Dinneen, Michael Le Page and Leah Crane. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com.Events and discount codes:January sale: newscientist.com/jansale2023RSC new publishing platform rsc.li/books Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
26/01/23·22m 46s

#162 How to trigger positive tipping points to tackle climate change

On this special episode of the show, host Rowan Hooper and environment reporter Madeleine Cuff chat with climate scientist Tim Lenton of the University of Exeter.Tim has just contributed to a research paper that suggested governments could trigger a mass shift to plant-based diets, simply by serving more vegan burgers in schools and hospitals. We discuss with Tim the power of leveraging so-called positive tipping points to bring about large-scale change.Topics in a wide-ranging and fascinating discussion include: green hydrogen, better fuel for ships, James Lovelock and negative tipping points. These are processes such as the drying of the Amazon rainforest or the melting of the Western Antarctic ice shelf, that, if triggered, would become irreversible and self-perpetuating and that would certainly speed up climate change. One such tipping point that Tim highlights is the Atlantic ocean conveyor belt, and in particular, the deep convection in the Labrador Sea. If the tipping point for this is reached, and models suggest it could happen at the warming we are now seeing, then Europe would shift to a far more seasonal climate, with extremes in both winter and summer.To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
25/01/23·27m 9s

#161 What they don’t tell you about the climate crisis with Assaad Razzouk

In this bonus episode of the podcast, hear Rowan Hooper’s extended interview with Assaad Razzouk, author of Saving the Planet Without the Bullshit: What they don’t tell you about the climate crisis.For a refreshing take on the climate crisis, find out why Assaad believes we need to feel less guilty about our personal actions when it comes to tackling climate change. In this episode he argues things like going vegan and flying less are just distractions, and explains where he believes the real battle lies.To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
23/01/23·19m 5s

#160 Rejuvenation treatments; world to breach 1.5 degrees of global heating

A cure for ageing, without the price-tag? It might sound too good to be true, but the team digs into new evidence that shows low-frequency ultrasound may rejuvenate cells in our body which are thought to cause age-related diseases. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is missing half of its matter - and the team asks where it’s all gone. They also discuss NASA’s ShadowCam which has taken pictures of Shackleton Crater on the south pole of the Moon, a region of particular interest if humans are to settle on the Lunar surface.Despite dramatic heat waves over the past few years, the Earth has actually been in a cooling period, known as La Niña, for the last three years. So with an El Niño on the way - a period of warming - the team finds out about the coming climate impacts, and how we might breach 1.5 degrees of global heating.Oyster mushrooms eat nematodes - who knew? And as the team finds out, they even do it in a pretty gruesome way, using a sort of nerve gas. The question is, can they still be considered vegan?For a unique take on the climate crisis and the personal responsibility we feel in tackling it, Rowan chats to Assaad Razzouk, author of Saving the Planet Without the Bullshit: What They Don't Tell You About the Climate Crisis. He explains why we shouldn’t worry about going vegan or cutting down on flying, and reveals the real things we should be angry about when it comes to climate change.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Madeleine Cuff, Michael Le Page and Leah Crane. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com.Events and discount codes:newscientist.com/tours Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
19/01/23·26m 55s

#159 Aboriginal stories describe ancient climate change and sea level rise in Australia

In this bonus episode of the podcast, hear an extended interview with Cassie Lynch, a descendent of the Noongar people of south west Australia who’s been studying their storytelling tradition.Find out how ancient accounts of rising sea levels from the end of the ice age around 7000 years ago have been passed down through aboriginal stories. And discover what we can learn from the events of the past in surviving the current climate crisis.Interviewing Cassie is writer and theatre maker David Finnigan. Find out more about the study by Patrick Nunn and Nicholas Reid here.To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
16/01/23·18m 57s

#158 Exxon’s 1970s predictions for climate change were super accurate

Scientists working for oil giant Exxon between 1977 and 2003 accurately predicted the pace and scale of climate change and warned of the harm of burning fossil fuels, while firm’s executives played down the risk. Now Exxon’s quantitative climate projections have been assessed for the first time. On this special episode of the podcast, host Rowan Hooper discusses the Exxon science with New Scientist environment reporter Madeleine Cuff, and climate scientist Peter Stott. Peter is the author of Hot Air, The Inside Story of the Battle Against Climate Change Denial and is a specialist in climate attribution at the UK Met Office’s Hadley Centre. There is also a contribution from climate scientist Michael Mann.The panel discuss ExxonMobil’s response to the new study, and talk about what we can take from it in terms of not being beguiled by vested interests when pushing for a fast transition to a world free from fossil fuels.The team also reacts to the news that the head of one of the world's biggest oil companies will be president of the COP28 climate summit later this year.To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
12/01/23·17m 1s

#157 Computer lawyer takes first court case; brains speed up with age

Will artificial intelligence replace lawyers in the future? The team learns about a new, chat-bot style bit of tech that fights your legal battles for you, and is about to be tested in a real court room. But is it ethical, or even legal?Gibbons love to sing, but what we’ve just learnt is male and female gibbons also enjoy belting out synchronised musical duets. The team plays some of these delightful sounds, and finds out what this tells us about the evolution of rhythmic capabilities in humans.There’s good news for those of us who are getting on a bit. The team finds out about the very welcome news that some parts of our brains actually speed up when we age.Wind turbines today are already pretty massive - some as high as 250 metres tall. But a new type of turbine has been dreamt up that would rival the tallest skyscrapers. The team discusses the type of engineering that will go into this mega wind turbine, if its inventor can find the $1 billion needed to fund its creation.Stories passed down through aboriginal cultures may provide a roadmap on how to survive the current climate crisis. The writer and theatre-maker David Finnigan speaks to Cassie Lynch, a descendant of the Noongar people of Australia, who’s been studying their storytelling tradition. She reveals ancient knowledge from thousands of years ago, usually only shared among indigenous people.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Madeleine Cuff and Matt Sparkes. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com.Events and discount codes:newscientist.com/lhc Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
12/01/23·25m 4s

#156: What you need to know in science and culture for 2023

To see in the New Year, host Rowan Hooper and the team look ahead to their science and cultural highlights for the coming months.We start with 2 big planetary science missions due for launch in 2023. JUICE, which will be visiting Jupiter to study some of its moons, and Psyche, which is making a journey to an asteroid made completely of iron.With covid still causing a huge burden of disease around the world, we find out how treatment of the disease is set to evolve this year, and what we can expect from the development of new vaccines.2023 also looks to be the year of deep-sea mining, as we search for more minerals to fuel the green-revolution. But will countries regulate the industry in time, before it turns into a new wild west? And the team explains how our understanding of pregnancy and the earliest stages of life is set to change this year thanks to work that will accelerate the creation of synthetic embryos.In cultural news, the team looks ahead to an exciting roster of new books coming out this year, including The Terraformers by Annalee Newitz, In Ascension by Martin MacInnes, Saving Time by Jenny Odell, and Breathe: Tackling the Climate Emergency by Sadiq Khan.In film and TV they discuss Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, Dune Part 2, Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania, and the TV adaptation of Bonnie Garmus’ Lessons In Chemistry. There is particular anticipation for the Netflix adaptation of Cixin Liu’s extraordinary book, The Three-Body Problem.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Alison Flood, Madeleine Cuff, Jason Murugesu, Michael Le Page and Leah Crane. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com.Events and discount codes:newscientist.com/arcticevent Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
05/01/23·26m 14s

#155: Our five favourite New Scientist long-reads from 2022

A holiday special of the podcast and a free-gift giveaway this week, as we celebrate five of New Scientist’s best front-page features of 2022. As well as discussing the features and why they chose to tackle them, the team chats about the beautiful cover artwork for each story.First up is the news that AI is helping to decode the lost stories of ancient Mesopotamia, revealing the secrets of ancient cuneiform texts - the world’s first known writing.Next are the blips recorded by the Large Hadron Collider which have hinted at a potential new force of nature - a discovery which could change physics forever.The most popular feature story of the year was ‘The Longevity Diet: How knowing what to eat and when can help you stay young’. Real news-you-can-use, this feature highlights a new research-based diet that could increase your life expectancy by up to 20 years.If you’ve ever struggled with insomnia, you’ll want to read our feature on its causes, which shows that the sleep disorder is now a solvable problem.And finally is a story which asks, is there a place for consciousness in our understanding of the universe? The team explains the idea that physics needs to embrace subjective experience in order to fully describe and explain the universe.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Cat de Lange, Dan Cossins and Alison George. These premium features are usually only available to subscribers, but as a holiday gift they’ll be free to read from the 25th December to the end of the year.To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
25/12/22·26m 42s

#154: News review 2022 - stand-out moments and funniest stories

Recorded live online for New Scientist subscribers, in this holiday special the team takes you through their stand out moments of the year, the funniest stories to hit the headlines, and their hopes for 2023 - and they answer questions from the audience too.For stand-out highlights of 2022, the team discusses Deepmind and its transformative AI AlphaFold which predicted the structures of most known proteins. They celebrate the successes of the James Webb Space Telescope and a recent nuclear fusion experiment that has, for the first time ever, generated more power than it requires to run. They also chat about advances in organ transplants and the amazing discovery of ants which have evolved the ability to treat the wounds of their nest mates.For their funniest picks of the year, they highlight the story of a fish that evolved to stand up on land then thought “nah”, and went back to living in water. Then there’s the news of researchers who wanted to find out if covid-related loss of smell correlated with negative reviews of scented candles on Amazon. And they discuss North America’s invasion by alien earthworms.After audience questions, the team looks to the future. From the scientific discoveries spurred on by the covid pandemic, to developments in quantum computing, new innovative ways of producing food in more environmentally friendly ways, advancements in gene replacement therapies and the future of space travel, they discuss the stories they’re most looking forward to next year.On the panel are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Alexandra Thompson, Anna Demming and Sam Wong. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com.Events and discount codes:Climeworks: www.climeworks.com Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
21/12/22·30m 39s

#153: Fusion breakthrough; COP15 report; Shakespeare and climate change

There’s been an exciting breakthrough in nuclear fusion. For the first time on Earth, a controlled fusion reaction has generated more power than it requires to run, bringing us closer than ever before to a viable way of producing clean energy for the world. So, what’s the catch? The team finds out.The New Scientist team reports from a worryingly quiet COP15. It’s hoped the biodiversity conference will be an opportunity to set ambitious global goals for nature, to reach the goal of restoring it by 2030. But with a distinct lack of world leaders in attendance, can this vital conference deliver?We now know how to spot alien spacecraft whizzing through space at warp speed…assuming some advanced civilisation has figured out how to stretch the fabric of spacetime of course. The team finds out about this new research which involves LIGO and gravitational waves.Shakespeare lived through an intense period of deforestation and climate change, and he referenced a lot of this in his work. Think back to Titania’s speech in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” about the changing seasons, and when Gloucester in Henry IV part 2 says “the seasons have changed their manners”. Shakespeare even described the energy transition from wood to coal as a fuel source. Rowan chats with Shakespearean scholar Randall Martin from the University of New Brunswick in Canada, and auditions for the part of Queen of the Fairies.Acclaimed science fiction author Adrian Tchaikovsky discusses his latest book, Children of Memory, the story of a fragile human colony on a far flung outpost – and some corvids, which may or may not be sentient. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Matt Sparkes, Madeleine Cuff, James Dinneen and Alison Flood. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com.Events and discount codes:Print-only deal: newscientist.com/printsaleClimeworks: www.climeworks.com Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
15/12/22·33m 33s

#152 Ancient species of human could control fire; complete brain map of fly

An extinct species of ancient human may have been much more advanced than we first realised. First discovered 10 years ago, Homo neladi had a brain about a third the size of ours and yet it may have done complex things like burying its dead and controlling fire. The team learns about the latest finding from the Rising Star cave near Johannesburg.Mars has long been described as geologically dead, but new evidence shows it may still be volcanically active. The team learns about a new theory which might explain what created the mysterious trenches in the Cerberus Fossae region of the planet.The largest complete map of the connections between neurons inside a brain has been made - but it’s not of a human brain. This whole-brain connectome is that of a Drosophila larva - the larva of a fruit fly. The team finds out about this massive undertaking - a stepping stone to describing the brains of more complex animals.Are penguins self-aware? When we try to answer this question in any animal, we tend to use the controversial mirror method - and that’s exactly what a group of researchers have done. But does it actually work, and can we trust the new findings? The remains of the last known thylacine (Tasmanian tiger) have been found, 80 years after they went missing. Self-described Australian mammal nerd Jack Ashby of Cambridge University tells the team how this curious mystery was solved. As the author of Platypus Matters, Jack also shares a story about Platypuses, and the “cocktail of misery” in the animal’s poisonous sting.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Leah Crane, Alison George and Michael Marshall. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com.Events and discount codes:Half price deal: newscientist.com/halfprice22Climeworks: www.climeworks.com Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
07/12/22·31m 29s

#151 COP15: the meeting to save life on Earth; anti-ageing properties of urine

Following repeated delays, the COP15 biodiversity conference is finally going ahead. On December 7th representatives from most of the countries in the world will meet to reach an agreement on how to address the global biodiversity crisis. There’s already a draft agreement in place, and the team explains the ambitions it lays out. But is this event likely to move the needle?A species of rat which should have gone extinct has somehow managed to keep going - and now we know why. In a story worthy of Margaret Atwood, the team finds out how the Amami spiny rat continues to survive despite losing its Y chromosome, the one which makes males. There’s a genuine space race going on, with multiple companies hoping to become the first private firm to land on the Moon. The Japanese mission ispace has hit a delay, but the team explains how a viable lunar economy is now a serious prospect.Newborn female mice who sniff the urine of other female mice live longer - considerably so in fact. The team finds out what’s going on, and whether the finding applies to humans too…And Rowan chats with Henry Gee, senior editor at the journal Nature, who has won the 2022 Royal Society science book Prize. He describes his book, ‘A Very Short History of Life on Earth: 4.6 billion years in 12 chapters’, as a bedtime story for adults, that tells the greatest story ever - the whole saga of life on Earth.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Chelsea Whyte, James Dinneen, Michael Le Page and Leah Crane. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com.Events and discount codes:Cyber Monday deal: www.newscientist.com/cybermonday Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
01/12/22·25m 59s

#150 Megadrought in the US; how to move an elephant

The southwestern US is currently in the midst of a megadrought - the worst in 1200 years. And it has put the Colorado River in crisis, an essential source of water for more than 40 million people. Can it be saved? Chelsea Whyte investigates.The team unveils the fun new names that have been chosen to define incomprehensibly massive and incredibly tiny numbers. These prefixes describe measurements that have more than 27 zeroes, created as part of the International System of Units.Like mac and cheese but hate the faff of making a roux? You’re in luck. Sam Wong shares a science-based one-pot mac hack, that’ll save you time and up the flavour too.Was COP27 in Egypt a success or a flop? Madeleine Cuff describes it as a mixed bag. After returning from the climate summit in Sharm El-Sheik, she reports on the progress that was made, and the vital issues that must be addressed over the next 12 months.Have you ever wondered how to move an elephant? Well, Ugandan wildlife vet Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka has done it, andit’s a struggle. She was given the task early on in her career, working at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre, and she shares her experience.On the pod are Penny Sarchet, Chelsea Whyte, Alex Wilkins, Madeleine Cuff, Graham Lawton and Sam Wong. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com. For New Scientist’s in depth series on the US megadrought, visit newscientist.com/megadrought.Events and discount codes:Black Friday deal: www.newscientist.com/blackfridayNew Scientist Business: newscientist.com/b2bsurvey Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
24/11/22·26m 27s

#149 COP27 treaty emerges; a method to discover wormholes

Cheering greeted Brazil’s president-elect, Lula da Silva, when he appeared at COP27 this week. Madeleine Cuff brings us a report from the climate conference in Egypt, where Lula has made bold promises to protect the Amazon. She also tells us what we can expect from this year’s draft treaty - and why the text has been causing quite a stir.There’s plenty going on in Space, with NASA’s Artemis mission now finally launching to the Moon. And the news that we may be able to look for wormholes (if they exist). These are different to black holes because they are traversable - handy if you happen to be an interstellar traveller looking for a fast route across the universe.Our ancestors may have begun using sophisticated cooking methods as long as 780,000 years ago. The team explains how fish teeth have been discovered near hearths at an ancient settlement in Israel. And X-ray analysis suggests they may have been cooked in some sort of earthen oven.Rowan visits a colony of leaf-cutter ants, who use an incredible method of farming fungi that evolved between 45 and 65 million years ago. David Labonte at Imperial College London explains how this complex and decentralised society operates.And have you ever wondered why some poos float and others sink? Too much fat in your diet? Fibre maybe? Or is it gas? Well, new research has lifted the toilet lid on this age-old question, and the team shares the results.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Madeleine Cuff, Leah Crane, Alice Klein and Sam Wong. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com.Events and discount codes:New Scientist Discovery Tours: www.newscientist.com/toursAmazon Future Engineer: www.amazonfutureengineer.co.uk/ayicBlack Friday deal: www.newscientist.com/blackfriday Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
17/11/22·31m 45s

#148 Climate action from COP27; world population reaches 8 billion

Warnings over the world’s mad dash to create new supplies of fossil fuels, discussions about climate loss and damage, and talk about nature-based solutions. COP27 in Egypt is in full swing. Our reporter Madeleine Cuff brings us the latest, direct from Sharm el Sheikh.This week’s Sci-fi alert is the unusual discovery of a star with a solid surface. The team explains how on this magnetar (the dense corpse of an exploded star), gravity would be immense and time would behave really weirdly - that’s if you’d be able to land on the thing. They also discuss how the IceCube Neutrino Observatory in Antarctica has been able to plot the course of cosmic neutrinos back to their home galaxy.The 15th of November has been chosen by the UN to mark the point that the number of people on the planet passes 8 billion. Despite this, the team explains how the world’s population isn’t accelerating, and is expected to peak sometime this century - sharing surprising statistics from Japan and China.Birds that migrate long distances are more likely to break up with their partners. Usually bird species are pretty much monogamous, so the team finds out why travelling species find it harder to stay together.“May this tusk root out the lice of the hair and the beard.” The team shares news of the discovery of the oldest readable sentence written using the first alphabet.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Madeleine Cuff, Leah Crane and Michael Le Page. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com. Events and discount codes:Half price offer: www.newscientist.com/halfpricedigitalThe Perception Census: www.perceptioncensus.dreamachine.worldWild Wild Life newsletter: newscientist.com/wildwildlife Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
10/11/22·28m 11s

#147 The oldest yew trees in Europe – and how to save them

In a special episode of the podcast, host Rowan Hooper visits Newlands Corner in the North Downs in southern England, the site of one of the oldest and most significant populations of wild yews growing anywhere in the world.Yew trees are familiar from churchyards and are also revered by pagans and shamans. They can live for many hundreds of years. The grove at Newlands Corner is an exceptional ecosystem, with yews over 1000 years old, but they are declining, losing their needles and slowly dying. Rowan meets arboreal scientist Geoff Monck of Treecosystems, who specialises in surveying and restoring arboreal ecosystems.The cause of the decline in ancient yews has many factors, but the impact of nitrates in rainwater and in run-off from crop fields is perhaps the most important. Rowan hears how nitrates are changing the way the wood wide web operates, and how we might be able to fix it. New Scientist podcasts are freely available. Subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
07/11/22·11m 13s

#146 Accelerated end to fossil fuel; double discovery on Mars

Spurred on by the war in Ukraine, we’re seeing a worldwide shift to green energy, with the global demand of fossil fuels now expected to peak in 15 years - a dose of optimism ahead of COP27. The climate conference kicks off in Egypt on November 6, and the team brings a round-up of what we can expect. Maddie and Rowan also discuss their recent visit to the London Literature Festival, where they saw Greta Thunberg speak.‘Marsquakes’ studied by NASA’s InSight lander suggest Mars may still be volcanically active - and it may have a subsurface water table similar to the one on Earth. The team says this is exciting news for the prospect of life existing on the Red Planet.“A victory not only for the region, but for humanity and life itself.” Brazil’s President  Jair Bolsonaro has been unseated by Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The team explains how Bolsonaro has presided over climate catastrophe, and why this news has sparked celebration - and relief - from environmentalists.Genetically modified mosquitoes have been released in a city in Brazil. The team explains how UK-based biotechnology firm Oxitec have done this in an effort to find ways to eliminate mosquitoes. The insects transmit deadly diseases like malaria, which kills more than 600,000 people a year.And we bring you a controversial ‘Lifeform of the Week’ - everyone’s most hated amphibian, the cane toad. Quite disturbingly, the team explains how new x-ray video footage shows that cane toads lick their own hearts when they swallow prey. Gross. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Madeleine Cuff, Sam Wong, Chris Simms and Alexandra Thompson. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com.Events and discount codes:Early bird offer: newscientist.com/earlybird22 Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
03/11/22·22m 21s

#145 COP27 climate summit preview; unexpected animal sounds

It’s already been a year since COP26, with its successor COP27 gearing up to begin on 6 November. 12 months on from some big pledges, the team finds out how much action has actually been taken, and whether this next climate conference is set to move the needle further.Quacks, barks and farts; listen out for some intriguing and unexpected animal sounds. The team shares the newly discovered vocalisations of some animals, like turtles and lungfish, that we previously thought were silent.Turmeric has become an increasingly popular supplement, particularly in the US. But reports are coming in that the spice is causing liver injuries and turning people’s skin yellow. The team finds out what’s going on.A quantum watch is a completely new way to measure time. Using quantum interference, this new technique can accurately measure tiny nanoseconds of time. Although its applications are quite niche, the team explains how this technology could be very useful.As a Halloween treat, our Life Form of the Week is the pumpkin and other squashes. The team dives into the surprising origins of these strange, hard-skinned fruits, and how they came to spread worldwide.On the pod are Penny Sarchet, Chelsea Whyte, Michael Le Page, Leah Crane, Sam Wong, Alice Klein and Rowan Hooper. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com.Events and discount codes:Halloween sale: newscientist.com/Halloween22New Scientist Discovery Tours: newscientist.com/toursWild Wild Life newsletter: newscientist.com/wildwildlife Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
27/10/22·22m 14s

#144 Geoengineering plan to slow the melt of arctic ice

An extended bonus episode of the podcast, where we learn more about proposals to slow the rate of ice loss in Greenland - and if it works, in Antarctica - using a local form of geoengineering. Host Rowan Hooper speaks to glaciologist John Moore and environmental social scientist Ilona Mettiäinen, both from the University of Lapland in Finland.They discuss the proposal, which involves building a giant, submerged curtain to stop warm sea water getting underneath the ice sheet. They explore the funding and effort needed to pull off a project as big as this. And they talk about local people’s feelings about preserving the ice, as for any intervention it will be vital to have endorsement from Greenlanders.To read about stories like this, subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
23/10/22·25m 37s

#143 Bird flu sweeps UK; secrets of the Neanderthal family

Wild bird populations have been devastated by an avian flu variant that’s sweeping the UK - and more than 3.5 million captive birds have been culled. It’s expected to be the worst winter on record for avian flu - and the team finds out why.Female robins sing just as much, and just as beautifully, as their male counterparts. It might sound like a no-brainer, but we’ve only just found this out, which the team explains is due to a male bias in ornithology. They share songs from both a male and female robin, and discuss how brutally aggressive these birds can be.New Neanderthal genomes have been sequenced, giving us a glimpse into the lives - and inbreeding habits - of a family that lived in a cave in the Altai mountains.Livers transplanted from older donors can keep working for over 100 years - outliving those given by younger donors. There are some clues that might explain how this is possible, and the team says it could be a game-changer for the future of transplant surgery.If all the ice in Greenland melted, it would raise the sea level by 7.2 metres. Although some melting is already locked in due to climate change, it might be possible to physically slow the rate of ice loss. Following a meeting of the Arctic Circle Assembly in Iceland, a team of scientists is investigating a way of slowing the ice melt by stopping warm sea water getting underneath the ice sheet. Rowan speaks to glaciologist John Moore and environmental social scientist Ilona Mettiäinen, both from the University of Lapland in Finland.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Carissa Wong, Madeleine Cuff and Michael Le Page. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com.Events and discount codes:New Scientist Discovery Tours: newscientist.com/toursNew Scientist gift subscription: newscientist.com/earlybird22 Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
20/10/22·26m 5s

#142: We need to talk about mental health and climate change

In 2022, for the first time, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change included mental health as part of its assessment of the impacts of climate change. Conditions such as anxiety, stress and post traumatic stress disorder are all predicted to increase as temperatures rise and people experience extreme weather events. To mark World Mental Health Day (Monday 10th October), Rowan spoke to ‘Losing Eden’ author Lucy Jones, and energy and climate scientist Gesche Huebner, to find out how the climate and nature crises are impacting our mental health - and what to do about it. This episode is an extended version of the edited interview on last week’s podcast - we hope you enjoy it.  Events and discount codes:Dow: newscientist.com/dowNew Scientist Autumn campaign: www.newscientist.com/pod13Big Thinker: newscientist.com/spaceandmotionMental health resources: UK Samaritans; US National Institute for Mental Health; help with climate anxiety Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
17/10/22·17m 45s

#141 Energy threat to international security; a new form of multiplication

The climate crisis is as great a threat to energy security as Russia’s war on Ukraine, warns the World Meteorological Organization. The team finds out what sort of threats we’re talking about, and discusses potential solutions.Imagine looking up at the skyline, ready to take in a beautiful sunset, and there it is - a massive, Moon-sized advert, stretched out across the skyline. The team explains how it might be possible (and practical) to do it soon.The erect-crested penguin is the least studied penguin in the world - largely because it lives on remote islands off the coast of New Zealand. But Rowan and Alice find out more - as well as discovering about the surprising sex lives of penguins.DeepMind’s newest artificial intelligence has discovered a new way to multiply numbers - the first improvement in over 50 years. It’s an algorithm for something called matrix multiplication, and the team finds out how it could speed up computers by as much as 20 per cent.To mark World Mental Health Day (Monday 10th October), Rowan speaks to ‘Losing Eden’ author Lucy Jones, and energy and climate scientist Gesche Huebner, to find out how the climate and nature crises are impacting our mental health - and what to do about it.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Madeleine Cuff and Matt Sparkes. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com.Events and discount codes:Dow: newscientist.com/dowNew Scientist Autumn campaign: www.newscientist.com/pod13Big Thinker: newscientist.com/spaceandmotionMental health resources: UK Samaritans; US National Institute for Mental Health; help with climate anxiety Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
13/10/22·30m 10s

#140 New Scientist Live Ask-us-Anything bonus episode

At New Scientist Live we invited you to ask our journalists anything - and at two packed out sessions, you absolutely delivered.Recorded live from the smoke-filled Space Shed at the Engage stage, this is a highlights reel of some of the best questions we received. Everything from dark matter to plant consciousness, 3D printed food, elephant emotional intelligence and black holes.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Emily Wilson, Sam Wong, Abby Beall, Tim Revell, Cat de Lange and Karmela Padavic-Callaghan. To read about these subjects and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.If you didn't make it to the event, you can catch up at newscientist.com/live Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
11/10/22·21m 51s

#139 Gas leak impact on climate change; a new way to explain life

Exploding gas pipelines have signalled a new environmental disaster. Nord Stream 1 and 2 have both sprung leaks, with many assuming sabotage. With huge amounts of methane released into the atmosphere, the team examines the climate impact of the damage - and puts the leak into context. During the height of the covid-19 pandemic, male birth rates dipped, temporarily altering the normal gender ratio of babies. The team finds out why and how this happened.Feeling itchy? Researchers have been looking at mice to figure out why itching is contagious - and the mere mention of the word has our panel scratching like mad!The molar teeth of primates, including humans, can clue us into how quickly their fetuses grow during pregnancy. The team finds out about a new mathematical model which is helping us to better understand the evolution of our species.Ahead of New Scientist Live this weekend (8th - 9th October), Rowan chats with star speaker Nick Lane of University College London. Nick explains how much of the chemistry of life seems to happen spontaneously - and how this understanding allows us to unpack the deepest mysteries of biology, from how life got going to what makes us conscious.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Alexandra Thompson, Carissa Wong and Matt Sparkes. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Events and discount codes:New Scientist Live: newscientist.com/live Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
06/10/22·28m 41s

#138 UK government’s attack on nature; when you can’t stop laughing

The UK government is being accused of mounting an attack against nature. Environmental charities claim a raft of newly announced or rumoured plans are likely to cause harm to the environment for the sake of economic growth. The team unpacks these concerning decisions. When you catch yourself in a fit of giggles, have you ever wondered why it’s so hard to get your words out? Well, the team discusses new research into the phenomenon, which shows the battle that goes on in our brains during a bout of uncontrollable laughter. The team brings you a cosmic interlude, starting with a discussion about NASA’s planet-saving DART mission, which successfully smashed into an asteroid. They then dig into the exciting news that astronomers have found remnants of the explosion of one of the first stars in the universe. Deforestation in the second biggest tropical rainforest in the Americas, the Maya forest, is being reversed. The team celebrates the success of a community-led conservation programme in Guatemala. Coronavirus vaccines may stave off the effects of long-covid. As covid infections pick up again in the northern hemisphere, the team looks at new research from the Office of National Statistics. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Alexandra Thompson, Michael Le Page and Leah Crane. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Events and discount codes:New Scientist Live: newscientist.com/liveAutumn Special: www.newscientist.com/autumnspecial2 Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
29/09/22·23m 2s

#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 achieve.Ants are everywhere. In fact, it’s estimated that Earth is home to 20 quadrillion of the things. Think of all the legs! In light of this news, the team discusses their favourite ants (yes they have favourites) - including the weaver ant which Rowan has been reading about in his favourite bedtime book, The Guests of Ants.Phosphorus has been discovered on Saturn’s moon Enceladus, meaning it now has all six of the essential elements for life. The team explains how the element was found in icy rock grains collected by the Cassini spacecraft.Covid may be triggering early puberty in some girls. While the condition was known about pre-pandemic, the surprising finding shows that since covid it’s happening in higher numbers and even sooner, in girls younger than seven. The team discusses whether it’s the stress of the pandemic or the disease itself that’s causing these effects. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Chelsea Whyte, James Dinneen, Alexandra Thompson and Alex Wilkins. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Events and discount codes:New Scientist Live: newscientist.com/liveAutumn Special: www.newscientist.com/autumnspecial Dow: newscientist.com/dow Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
22/09/22·26m 42s

#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 Rockpool Safaris.America’s West Coast is still being ravaged by wildfires, and not only are they set to become more frequent as the climate warms, but they’re going to become even more intense. Chelsea, who can see the orange skies of the fires from her home, discusses the rising risk of so-called ‘extreme wildfires’. Rowan makes the point that new research shows that transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy could lead to savings of $5 to $15 trillion dollars. Centenarians - people who live to be older than 100 - who have all the markers of Alzheimer’s, don’t appear to be affected by the disease. The team finds out about an intriguing new finding that upends our understanding of amyloid plaques, the proteins we think are closely associated with dementia. Climate change artist and Australian playwright David Finnigan discusses his latest play ‘You’re Safe Til 2024: Deep History’, which he performed at this year’s Edinburgh fringe festival and which is coming to London. It looks at the 75,000 year history of our impact on the environment from the lens of the 2019 Australian bushfires.   On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Chelsea Whyte, Abby Beall and Carissa Wong. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Events and discount codes:New Scientist Live: newscientist.com/live Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
15/09/22·23m 48s

#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 in Uganda’s Budongo Forest, and explains why they do it. Meta wants to read your mind - eventually. The panel discusses a new AI developed by Facebook’s parent company, that can detect certain words by reading brainwaves. New Scientist’s chief gourmand, Sam Wong, gets the team to taste-test a west-African fruit called the miracle berry, and explains how it could help curb our sugar addiction. He also discusses the fermenting process and its possible health benefits, while sharing a little of his delicious fermented hot chilli sauce. 100 light years away, we’ve spotted new exoplanets that may be good places to search for life. They exist in the habitable zone, near a red dwarf star with the delicious name SPECULOOS-2. But the planets are different to Earth, and the team discuss the chances they will support life (as we know it). On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Matt Sparkes, Alex Wilkins, Sam Wong and Carissa Wong. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Events, podcasts and discount codes:50% discounted subscription: newscientist.com/pod50New Scientist Live: newscientist.com/liveHow The Light Gets In: howthelightgetsin.org Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
08/09/22·27m 45s

#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 thermophiles, that eat petroleum. As the global climate warms, some areas of the world will become unlivable, forcing people to leave their homes and countries. In her new book ‘Nomad Century’ Gaia Vince explains how the tragedy of mass climate migration can also be seen as an opportunity. She explains her thinking, and the action we urgently need to take to survive in a warming world. Why do our eyes dart around when we dream? It’s long been a mystery, but the team learns how mice are helping us understand what really happens during REM sleep. Mucus is incredibly important for mammals, keeping everything running like a well oiled machine. Now surprising new research looking at species as diverse as rhinos, pangolins and ferrets has revealed its unusual evolutionary history, and the team discusses these findings. On the pod are Penny Sarchet, Chelsea Whyte, James Dinnean, Clare Wilson and Corryn Wetzel. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Events, podcasts and discount codes:50% discounted subscription: newscientist.com/pod50New Scientist Live: newscientist.com/live Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
31/08/22·25m 38s

#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 team finds out how this method works, and why it’s not fool-proof yet.   Philosopher Will MacAskill tells us about the concept of long-termism, which is about prioritising the long-term future of both people and planet. He explores some of the messages in his new book What We Owe the Future. Yields of soya have been boosted by a fifth, without adding any fertiliser at all. Genetic modification has been used to improve photosynthesis in the crop. The team says this is great news for farmers, wildlife, consumers and the climate. By studying Antarctica’s ice shelves, researchers have predicted that a special kind of ice falls upwards in the ocean on one of Jupiter’s moons. The team explains how this could be promising for hopes that Europa harbours life. On the pod are Penny Sarchet, Chelsea Whyte, Michael Le Page, Leah Crane, Alex Wilkins and Carissa Wong. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Events, podcasts and discount codes:50% discounted subscription: newscientist.com/pod50New Scientist Live: newscientist.com/live Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
24/08/22·26m 7s

#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 issues we’re going to face if we want to get people to Mars. The team looks at new research that shows just how extreme the dangers are, and they look at the possible consequences.Quantum computer experts want to build a brain-like computer out of giant atoms. The team finds out how physicists plan to use laser beams to build an artificial neural network, and hear what Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation has to do with it.  This week Rowan is delighted to chat with BAFTA-winning sound artist Chris Watson. Chris shares gorgeous soundscapes recorded in three threatened ecosystems, the Vatnajökull Glacier in Iceland, the Namib desert in Africa, and the Long Shore Drift off the coast of East Anglia. The sounds are being used in a collaboration with the Manchester Collective, to bring to life Michael Gordon’s cult work ‘Weather’. Chris was a founder member of legendary Sheffield band Caberet Voltaire, who happen to be the first band Rowan ever saw live.  BONUS: Stay till the end to hear the sound of saiga antelopes on the steppe grasslands of Kazakhstan, where they have rebounded after being on the brink of extinction. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Michael Le Page, Karmela Padavic-Callaghan and Alice Klein. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Events, podcasts and discount codes:Trees A Crowd: treesacrowd.fm50% discounted subscription: newscientist.com/pod50New Scientist Live: newscientist.com/live Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
17/08/22·28m 37s

#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 a new study may have figured out why. As the team explains, it’s surprisingly more complex than just running out of energy.Say it with us - pobblebonk! The acid-defying scarlet-sided pobblebonk frog is our lifeform of the week. Find out how this splendidly named creature survives in some incredibly hostile environments.Antonio Padilla, cosmologist and author of Fantastic Numbers and Where to Find Them, explains how weird and wonderful numbers - like Graham’s Number - can give us a glimpse into the biggest secrets of the universe. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Clare Wilson, James Dinneen and Jeremy Hsu. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Events and discount codes:50% discounted subscription: newscientist.com/pod50New Scientist Live: newscientist.com/live Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
11/08/22·30m 5s

#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 dreams, and the inspiration Neil draws from them. This week we also chew over the recent massive news that DeepMind’s artificial intelligence AlphaFold has predicted the structure of nearly all proteins known to science. It is, says the team, as monumental as the discovery of the structure of DNA. The team explains how transformative this could be in areas like disease prevention. Leaving Earth, we talk with cosmologist Laura Mersini-Houghton about her theory that we live in just one of a vast multiverse of universes, a subject she tackles in her new book ‘Before the Big Bang’. And there’s yet more amazing findings to discuss from the James Webb Space Telescope, including the possible discovery of a galaxy formed not long after the universe itself. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Clare Wilson, Michael Le Page and Leah Crane. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Events and discount codes:InsideTracker: insidetracker.com/NewScientistHow We’re Wired from The Bertarelli Foundation50% discounted subscription: newscientist.com/pod50 Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
04/08/22·33m 54s

#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 search for extraterrestrial life. There’s also a nod to the late great James Lovelock, who has died at the age of 103.The panel brings their stories of joy and hope. Abby brings news of the saving of a research centre for intelligent birds. Chris marvels at an impressive global geological event which highlights the power of collaboration. Hannah dreams up a story about “nanoskin” which happens to be very similar to a real story we reported. And Rowan comes with the news that chimps have been found to treat each other using medicinal insects.The panel discusses the ethics and possibilities of brain organoid research. These are tiny human brains grown in a lab, which have recently been shown to give off brain waves equivalent to those seen in fetuses. The whole team is gifted with an imaginary $100 million, and asked how they’d use it to save the world. Rowan wants to refreeze the Arctic. Then there’s a vibrant Q&A session with the audience. And for the boy who asked about brain organoids playing Pong, here’s the story.InsideTracker: insidetracker.com/NewScientistHow We’re Wired from The Bertarelli FoundationNew Scientist Live event: newscientist.com/nslbd Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
28/07/22·45m 10s

#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 China is planning to do aboard the new station.What does a black hole sound like? Although we can’t answer that literally, a process called data sonification offers up a solution - by converting astronomical data into sounds and music. The team shares two beautiful pieces composed for an immersive new production called ‘Black Hole Symphony’.Covid-19 has been found to increase the risk of premature birth if caught during the final trimester of pregnancy. The team explores the findings and what they mean for pregnant people.Plant communities could be fundamentally changed by declining pollinator populations, suggests a surprising experiment. The team examines the risk this poses to biodiversity.On the pod are Penny Sarchet, Emily Bates, Michael Le Page, Jason Murugesu, and Alex Wilkins. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Events and discount codes:InsideTracker: insidetracker.com/NewScientistHow We’re Wired from The Bertarelli Foundation50% discounted subscription: newscientist.com/pod50Blue Dot festival: https://www.discoverthebluedot.com/Escape Pod episode on sonification. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
21/07/22·23m 9s

#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 history of the universe.Much of the information our eyes take in is discarded by the brain. The team discusses a new technique called ‘ghost imaging’ which is using AI to reconstruct those lost images by interacting directly with our brain.Wheat hasn’t yet reached its genetic potential. The team finds out how genetically tweaking this vital crop could improve yields globally, and help it to withstand the impacts of climate change.Covid-19 is impacting fertility through its impacts on sperm - yet another thing we’re finding out about the disease. The team finds out what’s going on, and how long-lasting these effects are.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Jacob Aron, Karmela Padavic-Callaghan, Grace Wade and Carissa Wong. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Events and discount codes:InsideTracker: insidetracker.com/NewScientistHow We’re Wired from The Bertarelli FoundationOnline event: newscientist.com/beinghuman20% Discount: newscientist.com/pod20 Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
14/07/22·27m 48s

#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 innovations in drone technology.ClientEarth is an environmental legal organisation, or “lawyers for the planet”, with the aim of holding companies and governments to account over net zero plans. The organisation has recently brought cases against the Dutch airline KLM and French oil giant Total Energies for alleged greenwashing. Rowan speaks with Chief Impact Officer and “head of greenwashing” Maria Krystyna Duval.A strange kind of time paradox called causal loops is being researched. As well as explaining what a causal loop is, the team explains how a large set of theoretical universes were studied to see whether this time-travel paradox could actually work. The UK is being hit by a fifth wave of coronavirus cases, with many people becoming reinfected multiple times. The team examines the possible risks of reinfection, and asks if there’s an end in sight.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Jacob Aron, Karmela Padavic-Callaghan and Corryn Wetzel. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Events and discount codes:InsideTracker: insidetracker.com/NewScientistOnline event: www.newscientist.com/universeorigin20% Discount: newscientist.com/pod20 Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
07/07/22·30m 0s

#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 team finds out what will happen to future populations. And with the UN Ocean Conference taking place, we hear a clip of Sounds of the Ocean by composer Joshua Sam Miller, a piece where the lead singer is a whale!Poo transplants are being used to cure irritable bowel syndrome. The team discusses the success of a new trial which used the poop of a single, healthy athletic man - a super-pooer, basically - to introduce a healthy mix of gut microbes into those with the condition.Rogue planets, roaming through space without a star of their own, may still be able to host life. Even without the heat of their own Sun, the team explains how there is still a way that life could thrive.We’re in the middle of the biggest outbreak of monkeypox ever. With cases spreading fast, the team asks why the disease isn’t killing anyone yet, and they find out how big this outbreak could become.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Michael Le Page, Alice Klein, Leah Crane and James Dinneen. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Events and discount codes:InsideTracker: insidetracker.com/NewScientistNew Scientist Live Events: newscientist.com/childhoodnewscientist.com/whisky20% Discount: newscientist.com/pod20 Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
30/06/22·28m 47s

#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 the risk of heart attacks.African pouched rats are being trained as heroes. Donning special little backpacks, they will use their keen sense of smell to go on search and rescue missions. The team explains why they’ve been chosen for the task.Last September El Salvador became the first country to make cryptocurrency legal tender. But with the value of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies plummeting, the team examines what the future holds.Covid-19 is proving resilient, and as new variants of omicron emerge, infection rates still remain high. As omicron is milder than its predecessors, the team asks whether we should still be worried about the disease, and they find out how it may continue to evolve.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Michael Le Page, Corryn Wetzel, Leah Crane, Jacob Aron and Alice Klein. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Events and discount codes:InsideTracker: insidetracker.com/NewScientistNew Scientist Live Event: newscientist.com/childhood20% Discount: newscientist.com/pod20 Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
23/06/22·28m 8s

#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 explores its findings.Net Zero pledges are becoming more popular - which is great - but a lot of them aren’t being acted on. According to a new consortium Net Zero Tracker, a worrying number of these pledges aren’t credible. The team finds out how the group aims to hold companies to account.Our brains are hotter than we realised - 2.5 degrees celsius hotter in fact. The team asks why we’re only just finding this out in 2022, and how the discovery may improve care for people undergoing brain surgery.Steve Brusatte is best known as a dinosaur palaeontologist, but he has turned his attention now to our own class, the mammals. Rowan chats with him, and amongst other things finds out how enslaved Africans in South Carolina were instrumental in the development of palaeontology. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Clare Wilson,Matt Sparkes and James Dinneen. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Events and discount codes:InsideTracker: insidetracker.com/NewScientistFree giveaway: newscientist.com/4weeksfree20% Discount: newscientist.com/pod20 Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
16/06/22·28m 43s

#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 he’s found a way of making it about science - or technology, at least. In the film we see many new applications of technology and artificial intelligence in warfare, so we chat with AI and drone expert Arthur Holland Michel to discuss the future of combat and what Top Gun 3 might look like in another thirty years.The team brings you an incredibly exotic life form of the week… chickens! It turns out that chickens were domesticated a lot more recently than we thought. Hear some of the humorous archaeological blunders that have led to this confusion.In recent months doctors around the world have been reporting mysterious cases of children suddenly developing liver failure. While we don’t know what’s happening, the team explores some possible explanations. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Michael Le Page and Adam Vaughan. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Events and discount codes:Free giveaway: newscientist.com/4weeksfree20% Discount: newscientist.com/pod20Blue Dot Festival: discoverthebluedot.comUnderstanding the AI revolution: newscientist.com/aievent Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
09/06/22·27m 11s

#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 the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Pompeii has been sequenced. The team finds out how the DNA from 79 AD managed to survive the heat of the volcano, and what the findings tell us about the lives of these two people.Solar sails - a method of harnessing the sun’s light for space travel - are usually quite clumsy, so a NASA-funded team is developing a new more agile type of solar sail. The team finds out how they’re overcoming the problem.Haider Warraich, a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, discusses his new book ‘The Song of Our Scars: The Untold Story of Pain’, which addresses “modern medicine’s failure to understand pain”.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Chelsea Whyte, Leah Crane, Alice Klein, Anna Demming and Alex Wilkins. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Events and discount codes:Free giveaway: newscientist.com/4weeksfree20% Discount: newscientist.com/pod20Blue Dot Festival: discoverthebluedot.com Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
01/06/22·30m 29s

#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 about their eating habits.CRISPR gene editing has been used to make supercharged tomatoes, rich in vitamin D. The team finds out how they managed to do it, and explains why this breakthrough is particularly good news for vegans.Ever wondered what it’s like to explore another planet? We hear from Sanjeev Gupta from Imperial College London, one of the scientists with the breathtaking job of helping Nasa's Perseverance rover navigate Mars, as it starts sampling an ancient river delta to look for ancient life.We’re in the midst of the largest known outbreak of monkeypox. The virus is endemic to Central and West Africa, but has begun to spread to the rest of the world, with 170 cases now confirmed. The team examines the likelihood of this virus becoming the next global pandemic.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Jacob Aron and Corryn Wetzel. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Events and discount codes:Free giveaway: newscientist.com/4weeksfree20% Discount: newscientist.com/pod20 Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
26/05/22·29m 33s

#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 (a dummy, not a real human!) is heading to the International Space Station in Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft. The test flight is part of NASA’s commercial spacecraft programme, and the team examines its goals.Farming is the most destructive human activity ever to have blighted the Earth according to the writer and environmental activist George Monbiot. His new book Regenesis explores his thinking, and explains why we should all be eating microbes instead of animals.Read these out loud… “Funk fungus”, “gnome bone”, “spam scrotum”. If you have a smirk across your face, you’re not alone. The team finds out why some word pairings are more funny than others.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Jacob Aron and Michael Le Page. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Events and discount codes:Calm History: www.silkpodcasts.comUS Offer: newscientist.com/unlimited 20% Discount: newscientist.com/pod20 Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
19/05/22·26m 11s

#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 University of Glasgow have upgraded their 2019 machine, and it’s now fully programmable. The team discusses the project’s ultimate goal, to make a chemical brain and even explain consciousness.Ants have the power to heal. The team explains how Matabele ants, large ants found in sub-Saharan Africa, have evolved the ability to diagnose infected wounds in their nestmates using an antimicrobial medicine that they produce themselves.It’s estimated that covid-19 has now killed close to 15 million people. And with reports of rapid reinfections and new omicron sublineages emerging, the team finds out how worried we should be about getting covid multiple times, and what we can expect from future mutations of the virus.The composer Jon Hopkins has been working with a team involving neuroscientist Anil Seth to create a hallucinogenic immersive experience called Dream Machine. New Scientist’s Carissa Wong has been in it, and shares her wild experience. We also treat you to the music from Dream Machine throughout this episode.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Alice Klein, Karmela Padavic-Callaghan and Carissa Wong. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Events and discount codes:newscientist.com/pod20newscientist.com/unlimited newscientist.com/nslivenewscientist.com/tours Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
12/05/22·28m 49s

#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.While we fight to protect the environment on Earth, a lot less is done to safeguard space. Professor of astronomy at the University of Edinburgh, Andy Lawrence, hopes that is about to change. He tells Rowan why space needs to be a protected ecosystem, subject to the same sort of regulations as the oceans and the atmosphere.The earthworm invasion is upon us. Large parts of North America have been without earthworms for 12,000 years, but in the last 200 years they’ve begun their slow and undramatic takeover. The team discusses a new study which looks at the effect this is having on plant and aboveground arthropod communities.And primatologist Frans de Waal joins the pod to discuss the under-studied topic of sexuality, gender and biological sex differences in our closest relatives, chimps and bonobos.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet and Tiffany O’Callaghan. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Events and discount codes:newscientist.com/pod20newscientist.com/nslivewinnewscientist.com/azores Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
05/05/22·25m 57s

#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 of its dramatic global consequences. But it’s having effects everywhere and to make that point, this week Rowan visits Wytham Woods in Oxfordshire. Speaking to Oxford University biologist Ella Cole, he hears how spring has jumped forward nearly a month since research began at Wytham 75 years ago.Just a few weeks after the shock discovery of the W boson anomaly, physicists have written more than 65 new papers trying to explain what’s going on. The team says this has led to an exciting surge of new ideas about the standard model of particle physics, and the revival of some old theories too.Devi Sridhar, professor of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, has become well known over the last couple of years for her analysis and advice about the pandemic. Rowan speaks to her about her new book, Preventable: How a Pandemic Changed the World & How to Stop the Next One.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Chelsea Whyte and Leah Crane. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Events and discount codes:newscientist.com/pod20newscientist.com/love Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
28/04/22·31m 47s

#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 Richard Mainwaring about his new book ‘Everybody Hertz’.The next ten years of priorities for United States space exploration have been mapped out in the latest decadal survey. The team discusses some of the most exciting missions we can look forward to, including trips to Uranus and Enceladus, as well as a sample return mission from Mars.Taylor Swift is our Lifeform of the Week - but not the musician and global sensation. No, this is a newly discovered millipede named after her. The team uses this opportunity to explore the fascinating world of undiscovered species.Wording in the most recent IPCC report on the ‘Mitigation of Climate Change’ has come under scrutiny. The document says greenhouse gas emissions need to peak "at the latest before 2025". The team explains why that statement has been met with backlash.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Chelsea Whyte, Sam Wong, Leah Crane and Adam Vaughan. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Events and discount codes:newscientist.com/pod20newscientist.com/courses Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
21/04/22·28m 33s

#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 of us overestimate just how diverse our environment is. A new study examining this ‘diversity illusion’ has shown that we tend to believe minority groups are larger in number than they actually are. The team finds out how the research was carried out, and whether we can combat this bias.Known by some as the world’s first computer, the Antikythera mechanism is an ancient Greek device that acts sort of like a clock. Now a group of researchers thinks they’ve found out the exact date and time it was calibrated to, and the team explains how they worked it out.Rhesus macaque monkeys may be as aware of their own heartbeats as human babies. The team examines a new study which looked at a kind of self awareness called interoception, the ability to detect your own internal state..On the pod are Penny Sarchet, Chelsea Whyte, Leah Crane, Jason Murugesu and Matthew Sparkes. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Events and discount codes:newscientist.com/pod20newscientist.com/lovenewscientist.com/courses Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
14/04/22·18m 3s

#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 particle physics. The team examines a bizarre result from an experiment looking at the W boson, a particle involved in radioactive decay and nuclear processes.Weta crickets aren’t your average cricket. Found in New Zealand, female wetas have evolved an extra set of genitalia - and the team finds out why.What are dreams for? Most of the current theories assume dreams are doing something to benefit the dreamer - but a new proposal looks at how dreams might benefit other people. Dream researcher Mark Blagrove explains that telling people about your dreams could help social bonding.As multiple omicron sublineages and recombinants are emerging, covid infections in England are soaring. The team examines how these new variants have come about, and what this all means for healthcare in hospitals.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet and Alex Wilkins. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Events and discount codes:newscientist.com/pod20newscientist.com/cosmos Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
07/04/22·27m 58s

#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 the biodiversity crisis, 195 countries have been working on a draft deal called the Global Biodiversity Framework. But despite the alarming real-world consequences of the crisis that we’ve been seeing in recent weeks, the team explains how the discussions have been a flop.Vampire bats are the only mammal to feed exclusively on blood - which is weird because it’s not very nutritious or filling. So how do they do it? The team explores new findings about the genetic changes that have occurred in the bats to allow them to survive and thrive on the stuff.And finally, the team takes you on a trip to Monterey Bay off central California, sharing sounds of the bay’s aquatic life in an escapist audio-quiz. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Leah Crane and Alice Klein. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Events and discount codes:newscientist.com/pod20newscientist.com/courses (code: PODCAST40)newscientist.com/eatingwellThanks to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute for the sound clips. These clips are licensed under the following Attribution licences:Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC 3.0) Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
31/03/22·25m 44s

#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 mysterious, but a problem known as the ‘black hole paradox’ has been bothering physicists because it undermines what we know about quantum mechanics. Now, as the team explains, there could be a (vaguely confusing) solution. They also mark a major milestone in the search for new exoplanets.The team reviews a compelling new sci-fi opera that’s showing in New York. Upload is about a daughter who is trying to come to terms with the decision of her father to physically die in order to have his consciousness uploaded to a computer.And we hear the *delightful* sound of an orangutan ‘kiss squeak’, as the team finds out what this vocal call tells us about the evolution of speech in primates.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Leah Crane and Timothy Revell. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.For a 20 per cent discount subscription to New Scientist magazine, go to newscientist.com/pod20.For a 50 per cent discount on New Scientist Academy courses, use the code POD50 at checkout at newscientist.com/courses. Offer ends on March 31st.The second in the Big Thinkers online series goes live on Thursday 31st March, 6-7pm BST. Claudia de Rham, Professor of Physics at Imperial College London, explores ‘what we don't know about gravity’. For more information visit newscientist.com/gravity Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
24/03/22·27m 50s

#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 covid are on the rise globally, with China and Hong Kong hit particularly badly. Despite promising weekly declines since January, this new surge in cases is linked to various countries adopting ‘living with covid’ plans. As Iceland attempts ‘herd immunity’, the team examines the effectiveness of this strategy.A new candidate has emerged for ‘coldest place in the solar system’ - where do you think it is? The team explains why this information could be useful for the future of space exploration.Australia has been hit by massive floods, as the country faces yet another assault from climate change. This comes just 2 years after the Black Summer wildfires which caused unprecedented destruction, and even damaged the ozone layer - as the team discovers.And finally composer Hannah Peel, whose work is influenced by science and nature, helps us escape from the mayhem, sharing clips from her new album ‘The Unfolding’.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Alice Klein and Michael Le Page. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.For a 20% discount subscription to New Scientist magazine, go to newscientist.com/pod20.For a 50% discount on New Scientist Academy courses, use the code POD50 at checkout at newscientist.com/courses. Offer ends on March 31st. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
18/03/22·28m 30s

#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 from a male. The team explains how CRISPR gene editing has been used to create embryos from unfertilised eggs.As the Amazon rainforest becomes less resilient to drought, there are fears it may be passing a tipping point that could turn the whole system from forest into savannah. Earth system scientist Tim Lenton of the University of Exeter explains the devastating global impact this would have.Taking a much-needed trip off the planet, the team discusses two stories from Mars, one from NASA’s Perseverance rover and another from China’s Zhurong rover. We also present an audio space-quiz you can take part in! Thanks to NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/CNRS/ISAE-Supaéro for the audio clips. And legendary cosmologist Martin Rees shares his thoughts on the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence in the universe and the fascinating concept of ‘secular’ intelligent design.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Matt Sparkes, Adam Vaughan and Richard Webb. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.For a 20% discount subscription to New Scientist magazine, go to newscientist.com/pod20.For a 50% discount on New Scientist Academy courses, use the code POD50 at checkout at newscientist.com/courses. Offer ends on March 31st. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
11/03/22·31m 40s

#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 start of the coronavirus pandemic are confirming what we’ve long suspected - that the virus originated at the Huanan food market in Wuhan. The team discusses the latest findings.Moles - the animals that make holes in your lawn - are non-binary. Just one of a number of amazing facts to come out of the new book ‘BITCH: A Revolutionary Guide to Sex, Evolution & the Female Animal’. Hear from the author Lucy Cooke, who is challenging the sexist basis of much of the thinking about female animals. Stonehenge may have been built as a giant calendar. Though the claim itself isn’t new, the team explores a new theory from the archaeologist Tim Darvill which explains how it would’ve worked.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Jacob Aron, Clare Wilson and Alison George. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
04/03/22·32m 38s

#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. But is this the right decision, and what does the science say? The team speaks to Christina Pagel from Independent SAGE, a group which offers independent scientific advice to the government.An Australian billionaire is fighting back against the country’s government, and its lack of action on climate change. The team explains how Mike Cannon-Brookes plans to buy up Australia’s largest electricity company so he can shut down all its coal-fired plants and replace them with renewable energy.Researchers are beginning to better understand how humans experience different types of pain, which could lead to more effective drugs for people living with chronic pain. The team explores the new findings, which also suggest men and women experience pain differently.And the team discusses the intelligence of orangutans, based on their ability to use and make tools.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Alice Klein, Jacob Aron, Adam Vaughan and Jason Murugesu. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
25/02/22·32m 30s

#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.Enhanced weathering - using ground-up rocks to draw carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere - is one of a number of technological carbon capture solutions being tested to try and mitigate against global warming. The team speaks to Professor David Beerling of the University of Sheffield, one of the scientists in the UK leading the development of this technique.SpaceX has a suite of three missions planned to launch in its Polaris programme. The first aims to take its Dragon crew capsule higher into orbit than anyone has flown since the Apollo moon missions. The team shares what we know so far.And they find out whether adult human brains can actually grow new neurons. Spoiler: it doesn’t look good.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Leah Crane and Alice Klein. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Check out our sister show Escape Pod to hear more about lichens and much more. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
18/02/22·30m 2s

#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 France 54,000 years ago. The team says Neanderthals and modern humans appear to have crossed over, moving in and out of a site called Grotte Mandrin as if it were a prime piece of real estate.With so many major developments in using pig organs for transplants, the team finds out how gene editing has catapulted xenotransplantation forward and look ahead to how else this technology could be used.And they also look at a study that suggests dog poo may be having a harmful impact on wildlife and biodiversity.On the pod are Penny Sarchet, Timothy Revell, Clare Wilson, Michael Le Page and Chen Ly. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Thanks to our sponsor Brilliant. The first 200 people to sign up using this link http://brilliant.org/newscientist will get 20% off unlimited access to all the courses on Brilliant for a whole year.Join New Scientist in Manchester, UK, and online at New Scientist Live from 12 to 14 March. Hear experts discuss their transformative research and enjoy interactive exhibits, workshops and feature areas on the festival floor. Visit www.newscientist.com/manchester for more information. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
11/02/22·25m 44s

#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 since the 1980s, the warming climate has brought the season forward by a month - which could have major ecological implications. They also discuss a study which looks at the impact of marine heatwaves on things like coral and fish populations.Professor Chris Jackson, one of the star speakers at the upcoming New Scientist Live event in Manchester, joins the conversation to explain the importance of geology in the climate fight.And the team throws a spanner in the works for the nature/nurture debate. A new study on fruit flies suggests there may be another element at play.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Michael Le Page and Leah Crane. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Thanks to our sponsor Brilliant. The first 200 people to sign up using this link http://brilliant.org/newscientist will get 20% off unlimited access to all the courses on Brilliant for a whole year. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
04/02/22·28m 48s

#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 Norwegian Polar Institute scientist Jack Kohler about the impact of climate change in Svalbard. Samples from the deep sea Nankai Trough off Japan have shown for the first time that some microbes are able to withstand heats we previously thought were too extreme for life, which the team says could change the way we look for life elsewhere in the universe.Finally we hear about the mysteries of consciousness from the philosopher David Chalmers, famous for his work on the so-called ‘hard problem of consciousness’.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, Michael Le Page, Adam Vaughan and Richard Webb. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Thanks to our sponsor Brilliant - remember the first 200 people to sign up using this link http://brilliant.org/newscientist will get 20% off unlimited access to all the courses on Brilliant for a whole year. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
28/01/22·32m 7s

#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 building these machines using neutral atoms. As antibiotic resistance continues to cause deaths worldwide, an alternate therapy using phages is growing in popularity - the team finds out about the pros and cons of this type of treatment. And the anthropologist Beth Singler joins the conversation - she looks specifically at human interactions with artificial intelligence, in an attempt to understand our fear of and reverence for the technology. On the pod are Penny Sarchet, Sam Wong, Michael Le Page, Alice Klein, Emily Bates and Alex Wilkins. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Thanks to our sponsor Brilliant - remember the first 200 people to sign up using this link http://brilliant.org/newscientist will get 20% off unlimited access to all the courses on Brilliant for a whole year. To book a ticket for our New Scientist live event ‘Understanding The AI Revolution’, click here. And for tickets to see professor of psychiatry Ted Dinan live as part of our health and wellbeing online events series, click here. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
21/01/22·27m 47s

#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 variant of coronavirus, and with more than half of people in Europe set to catch it in the next 6 to 8 weeks, the team explains why the variant is more infectious. There’s a double dose of moon news this week - first there’s the discovery that Saturn’s moon Mimas may have an ocean beneath its surface, and then we have the first water ever detected by a robot on our Moon. And novelist and New Scientist columnist Annalee Newitz joins the discussion to share their experiences with a robot therapist called Woebot. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Clare Wilson and Leah Crane. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Thanks to our sponsor Brilliant - remember the first 200 people to sign up using this link http://brilliant.org/newscientist will get 20% off unlimited access to all the courses on Brilliant for a whole year. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
14/01/22·32m 59s

#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 these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. From the team at New Scientist, Happy New Year! Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
07/01/22·23m 41s

#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 judging proceedings, with panelists Penny Sarchet, Richard Webb, Sam Wong and Bethan Ackerley. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. From the team at New Scientist, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year! Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
24/12/21·39m 43s

#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 creativity. As the holiday season approaches, Omicron shows no signs of letting up, so the team brings you up to speed on what we know so far. And they bring two bird related stories, one about the superpowers of zebra finches and the other about the link between personality types and feather colours in turkeys. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Michael Le Page, Clare Wilson and Matt Sparkes. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
17/12/21·25m 39s

#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 an approaching comet that will destroy the planet. As well as that, renowned cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker joins the pod to discuss his new book ‘Rationality’, which outlines the major forces underlying our irrational tendencies. The team also brings you the bubbling sounds of melting glaciers, and they share news of a new kind of GPS that uses cosmic rays. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Michael Le Page and Chelsea Whyte. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
10/12/21·27m 44s

#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 arrived on Earth like rain from space. They also find out how living robots - xenobots - are able to reproduce, and bring news of a black hole doomsday double whammy. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet and Carissa Wong. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Thanks to our sponsor Brilliant - remember the first 200 people to sign up using this link http://brilliant.org/newscientist will get 20% off unlimited access to all the courses on Brilliant for a whole year. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
03/12/21·23m 3s

#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 little self conscious when the topic of body odour comes up. But this story is actually about an odourless chemical that we emit, that seems to influence human behaviour - affecting men and women differently. They also touch on an innovative new climate-saving method of making plastic, and they find out why NASA is sending a rocket to smash into an asteroid. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Clare Wilson and Michael Le Page. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Thanks to our sponsor Brilliant - remember the first 200 people to sign up using this link http://brilliant.org/newscientist will get 20% off unlimited access to all the courses on Brilliant for a whole year. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
26/11/21·26m 23s

#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 Immune: A Journey into the Mysterious System That Keeps You Alive. As the dust starts to settle following COP26 in Glasgow, the team reflects on the progress that has been made - providing countries stick to their pledges. And there’s a story about an AI drug detective, which has been trained to help keep “legal highs” off the market. On the pod are Penny Sarchet, Timothy Revell, Matthew Sparkes, Leah Crane, Chelsea Whyte and Conrad Quility-Harper. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Thanks to our sponsor Brilliant - remember the first 200 people to sign up using this link http://brilliant.org/newscientist will get 20% off unlimited access to all the courses on Brilliant for a whole year. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
19/11/21·27m 42s

#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 of the event - the team explains what we know so far. This includes a joint declaration put out by the US and China - an unexpected but welcome message of hope. They also discuss the developed world’s attempts to make up for breaking the promise made in Paris - the payment of $100 billion that was meant to help developing countries tackle climate change. The team ends by looking to the positives, and discussing the post-Glasgow path ahead. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Richard Webb, Adam Vaughan and special guest, climate scientist Emily Shuckburgh of the University of Cambridge. Finally, Paris 2015 legend Christiana Figueres pops up to give a message of optimism. And to read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
12/11/21·36m 55s

#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 follow through. Friday is Youth Empowerment Day at COP26, and we hear the thoughts of Larissa Naylor from the University of Glasgow, who started her climate activism when she was 15 by organising Earth Rallies. The team also finds out about a commitment to end nearly all deforestation within nine years. There’s some non-COP news in there too, including an out-of-this-world story about tardigrades, and some amazing work being done to engineer microbes to live inside mammalian cells. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Graham Lawton and Adam Vaughan. Rowan and Adam will be at Glasgow next week for the second of our special episodes, so stay tuned. In the meantime sign up to our COP26 newsletter here. And to read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
05/11/21·33m 41s

#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 by aliens… probably wasn’t aliens. They also explain why sperm quality is declining in American men, prompting predictions that the average sperm count will hit zero by 2045. And they discuss the news that Elon Musk’s Tesla has become only the sixth US company ever to reach a trillion dollar valuation. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Chelsea Whyte, Alice Klein and Leah Crane. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. If you’re interested in listening to the Sleep Whispers podcast, follow this link. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
28/10/21·25m 15s

#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 world’s largest artificial intelligence - the Megatron-Turing Natural Language Generation model - and finds out what it is capable of. They also discuss how hard Iran has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic: new data shows nearly every person in the country has had covid, some twice or even three times. And in the build up to COP26, the team is getting in the party spirit, and shares details of a climate-inspired Spotify playlist they’ve put together. You can listen to it here. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Chelsea Whyte, Alice Klein, Bethan Ackerley and Matt Sparkes. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
21/10/21·28m 34s

#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 galaxy. And that’s not the only exciting space news - they also discuss Blue Origin’s latest passenger flight to space, featuring Star Trek legend William Shatner. They also share deepfake audio of Donald Trump, showcasing how accurate the technology has become, and why we should be concerned. And they share a fascinating new theory about how sea cucumbers are able to survive in extreme environments. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Michael Le Page, Jason Murugesu and Chelsea Whyte. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
14/10/21·21m 59s

#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 &apospeace-washed&apos 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 - the team unpacks a flurry of announcements about promising new treatments. They discuss the new UAE space mission launching in 2028 which plans to swing by Venus before heading to the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. They also share a roundup of the physics and chemistry Nobel prize winners, and find out how touch receptors in the skin are involved in social bonding and sexual desire. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet and Alice Klein. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
07/10/21·27m 21s

#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 discover how mini-black holes may have created some of the moon’s craters, and they find out why humans don’t have tails. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet and Abby Beal. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
30/09/21·27m 29s

#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 in quantum computing, including a city-wide quantum communications network in China that has been running for almost three years - showcasing how a future quantum internet might work. They also find out why cuttlefish are being compared to ancient Romans, and explore the reasons behind the UK’s winter fuel crisis. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Matt Sparkes and Alice Klein. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
23/09/21·27m 31s

#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 implications of creating mammoth-elephant hybrids. The team finds out the latest on the UK’s plans to vaccinate children, and whether the country is likely to face another lockdown. They also discuss the SpaceX Inspiration4 mission, and learn that cows are easier to potty train than toddlers. Your hosts on the pod are Rowan Hooper and Penny Sarchet. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
16/09/21·31m 5s

#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 identified for Martians of the future - the team talks about the discovery of caves on Mars which could be turned into settlements for human explorers. They also discuss the news of a billionaire-funded lab that’s been set up with the aim of ‘curing’ the ageing process. And you even get to hear the words of a swearing duck which has learnt to say ‘you bloody fool’ - yeah, you read that right. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet and Alice Klein. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
09/09/21·26m 42s

#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 the biggest problems in physics - quantum gravity. They also explore why the Large Hadron Collider - one of the most technologically advanced machines in the world - still stores data on old-school tapes. And they find out about Arabia’s role in the early history of humanity. On the pod are Penny Sarchet, Timothy Revell, Adam Vaughan, Leah Crane,- Chelsea Whyte and Rowan Hooper. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
02/09/21·30m 22s

#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 experts, and the team finds out exactly how the identification process works. They also learn about the nefarious goings-on of pollen-stealing bees, and they find out how astronomers have discovered a load of never-before-seen asteroids. On the pod are Penny Sarchet, Timothy Revell and Matthew Sparkes, Leah Crane and Chelsea Whyte. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
26/08/21·25m 25s

#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 and rapidly. With the new school year not far away, fears are mounting over the covid-19 Delta variant, which threatens to sweep through our children - the team explains why the issue of ventilation must be a top priority. Things take a bizarre turn when the team finds out about a lab-grown mini human brain that has grown a pair of eyes. Also, following the IPCC report last week, and as COP26 approaches, the team checks in on the latest climate news. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Abby Beall and Mike Marshall. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
19/08/21·29m 24s

#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 technology is being used to create guilt-free milk, cheese and ice-cream! And the team finds out about a killer tobacco plant - a newly-described species that kills insects and could provide a natural solution to pest control. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Graham Lawton and Adam Vaughan. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
12/08/21·28m 7s

#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 first time, microplastics have been found in human placentas, and the team examines the possible health implications. They also learn about new technology which is being used to send hidden messages in the calls of whales and dolphins, and they get all Doctor Who when they find out about the existence of real life time crystals. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet and Matt Sparkes. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
05/08/21·23m 19s

#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 walk without a brain. They also discover what would happen if two superfast stars smashed into each other, and find out why many climate models weren’t able to predict the severity of recent extreme weather. On the pod are Penny Sarchet, Timothy Revell, Leah Crane and Michael Marshall. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
29/07/21·27m 34s

#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 Shepard spacecraft, with Jeff Bezos announcing his plans to build a ‘road to space’. There’s also news about a tomato nervous system, as biologists discover the sophisticated methods the plants use to communicate. And the team touches on the discovery of a new genetic element named after the Borg in Star Trek, which could aid in the fight against climate change. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Chelsea Whyte, and Cat de Lange. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
22/07/21·24m 53s

#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 commercial space flights. The team gives an update on the dramatic heatwave ravaging the US, as more record high temperatures are set, continuing to leave destruction in its wake. They also explain what ‘impact gardening’ is and why it might help us find alien life on Jupiter’s moon Europa, and they share important news on the state of the cosmetics industry in Neolithic times. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Chelsea Whyte, and Layal Liverpool. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
15/07/21·22m 10s

#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 save the planet as former UK chief scientist David King, founder of the newly formed Climate Crisis Advisory Group, sets out his mission. In the race to create a breakthrough quantum computer, China is in the lead - the team explores a leapfrogging event which has seen the country achieve quantum advantage, creating the fastest computer on Earth. And they discuss NASA’s exciting plans to create a spacecraft powered by solar sails. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Chelsea Whyte, Matt Sparks and Clare Wilson. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
08/07/21·27m 54s

#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 discusses the intense heat waves that have been wreaking havoc in the Arctic and across the Pacific northwest. They explore the effects of covid-19 on the brain, as new studies show that a third of people who’ve been infected have suffered some form of cognitive or psychological disorder. They also share some incredible, experimental music from the composer John Luther Adams, whose new album ‘Arctic Dreams’ is inspired by the sounds of the Alaskan wilderness. And they bring bad news from the surface of Venus, as hopes for life on the planet begin to dwindle. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, Alison George and Chelsea Whyte. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Special thanks to John Luther Adams and his record label Cold Blue Music. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
01/07/21·23m 46s

#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. Then they get into the unnerving news that aliens might be spying on us from other planets. They mark the birthday of one of the greatest and most influential figures of the twentieth century, Alan Turing, who features on the Bank of England’s new £50 note. And they explain how quantum mechanics is being used to protect our data online. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, Adam Vaughan, Matt Sparkes, Leah Crane and Chelsea Whyte. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
24/06/21·30m 58s

#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 - ancient relics that have been trapped in the ice for millennia, sadly thawing due to global warming. There’s a conversation with forensic psychiatrist and psychotherapist Gwen Adshead about the capacity we all have for evil - the subject of her new book ‘The Devil You Know’. On top of that, there’s the news that China has launched the first group of astronauts to its new space station and laid out its plans for an international moon base, and a story about monogamy in seahorses, where it is the males who get pregnant. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, and Graham Lawton. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
17/06/21·27m 9s

#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 millimeter of human brain tissue, containing a whopping 50 thousand brain cells and 130 million connections. Then there’s the little story about how time can appear to violate the second law of thermodynamics, by running backwards instead of forwards. The team also celebrates the revival of an animal frozen in permafrost for 24,000 years, and they travel to the very edges of the galaxy where, for the first time, organic molecules have been detected. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, Mike Marshall and Anna Demming. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
10/06/21·28m 6s

#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&aposs 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 ‘Unwell Women: A Journey Through Medicine And Myth in a Man-Made World’, which examines the origins of the gender pain gap. They dig into new findings from the Libyan civil war showing autonomous robot drones, for the first time in history, have used AI to identify and attack humans. And on the brighter side of robotics, the team finds out about a cafe in Tokyo staffed by robots acting as avatar bodies for remote workers, which is offering people with life-limiting diseases a chance to interact with the outside world. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Cat de Lange, Graham Lawton and Anna Demming. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
03/06/21·26m 36s

#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 from genetics, speaking to anatomist Alice Roberts about her new book Ancestors: The Pre-History of Britain in Seven Burials. They hear the calls of red-handed tamarin monkeys who change their accents when they move in with a neighbouring species. And they discuss the extraordinary news that a man who was once blind has had his sight partially restored thanks to optogenetics. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O&aposCallaghan and Michael Le Page. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
27/05/21·26m 0s

#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 coronavirus news, the team highlights the disparity between the rich and the poor in the global vaccine rollout. They also discuss the exciting arrival of a Chinese rover on Mars, and a story about the monogamous relationships of Californian mice. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O&aposCallaghan, Michael Le Page, and Adam Vaughan. Also check out the story of how the way you move can change the way you think, and how chemists are rethinking the way atoms stick together. To read about these and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
20/05/21·22m 3s

#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 who explains the concept of brain plasticity. They mark a very special year for the loudest insect in the world - cicadas - and they discuss how degrowth - a deliberate step down in economic activity - might be the safest way to keep global warming at 1.5 degrees. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O&aposCallaghan, Graham Lawton and Clare Wilson. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
13/05/21·27m 49s

#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 soon create more carbon pollution than the whole of Sweden. And they explain how the naming of a new species of ant has been used to champion gender diversity, and share some amazing findings about the crew from the wreck of Henry VIII’s warship the Mary Rose. Also, make sure to check out this piece from Jemma Wadham who spent two weeks living under a glacier in Norway. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O&aposCallaghan, Cat de Lange, Karina Shah and Matt Sparkes. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
06/05/21·27m 15s

#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 Chinese space station. We also hear from legendary biologist Suzanne Simard. Simard discovered the wood wide web - revealing that trees live in a connected society, trading, collaborating and communicating in sophisticated ways through a shared underground network. The team also discusses a rapid rise of covid-19 infections in India, and they dig into the discovery of ancient structures in Arabia which predate Stonehenge and the Pyramids. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O&aposCallaghan, Michael Le Page, Leah Crane and Ibrahim Sawal. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
29/04/21·29m 44s

#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 carbon drawdown technologies. The discussion leans into the dangers of losing the Amazon rainforest, the importance of working with local communities, and the role billionaires play in advancing global climate goals. And while the scale of the problem seems insurmountable to many, the team says it’s important to remember that your actions are not futile - taking a personal stand and changing your habits is still absolutely critical. The Earth can recover, if we let it. On the pod this week: New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Michael Le Page and Adam Vaughan, joined by Tilly Collins from the Centre for Environmental Policy and Bonnie Waring from the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment.  Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
22/04/21·31m 17s

#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 genetic sequence of the coronavirus into beautiful and ethereal music. On top of this, the team brings news of a robot with an artificial nervous system that’s learnt to catch a ball, and they celebrate a new discovery about the world’s oldest animal, the comb jelly. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Chelsea Whyte, Sam Wong and Donna Lu. To read more about all these stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. And if you want to hear more of Markus Buehler’s work, visit his SoundCloud page. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
15/04/21·26m 55s

#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 challenge to the Standard Model of particle physics, as Fermilab’s muon g-2 experiment threatens to shake up everything we thought we knew. And finally the team explains how the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs gave rise to the Amazon rainforest, and explore news of rare blood clots linked to the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, Layal Liverpool, Richard Webb and Krista Charles. To read about these and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
08/04/21·28m 57s

#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 and exciting flavours of the classic taste. As countries around the world prepare for a third wave of covid-19 infections, the team explains how the vaccine rollout will impact hospitalisation and death rates. And they also celebrate the Octopus, as new research suggests they might be able to dream. On the pod are Tiffany O’Callaghan, Graham Lawton, Stuart Clark and Clare Wilson. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
01/04/21·24m 7s

#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 surface to listen to, and the upcoming launch of the Ingenuity helicopter. Also on the pod is the worrying story of vaccine hesitancy in the EU, and the team celebrates a microbe unlike anything seen before. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, Layal Liverpool, Richard Webb, Chelsea Whyte and Leah Crane. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Perseverance audio credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
26/03/21·26m 13s

#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 the mystery of the Antikythera mechanism, a 2000-year-old cosmos decoding device often called the world’s first computer. And they explain how mushrooms might be the answer to our clean energy needs, and chat to author and podcaster Dr Helen Scales about her new book ‘The Brilliant Abyss’. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, Jo Marchant, Eleanor Parsons and Michael Le Page. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
19/03/21·28m 7s

#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, they find out how we can use light to power spacecraft, and they celebrate the wondrous sea slug, which has a penchant for chopping off its own head. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, Clare Wilson, Alison George and Richard Webb. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
12/03/21·23m 53s

#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 the pod to talk about her new book ‘Under a White Sky’, and whether environmental fixes like geoengineering will help or harm our efforts to address climate change. In the mix is a brand new theory for creating a working warp drive, and new research looking at human friendship. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan and Michael Le Page. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
05/03/21·28m 32s

#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 Jezero Crater. They also uncover myths about how our metabolisms work, and why long-held assumptions about exercise and weight loss are wrong. Also: why researchers have been teaching Morse code to people while they sleep, and new findings about cetaceans and their unexpectedly low rates of cancer. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, Cat de Lange, Leah Crane and Chelsea Whyte. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
26/02/21·25m 2s

#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 highlights a newly discovered covid-19 mutation which is a combination of the variants first found in Kent and California. And they answer the questions “why is ice slippery?”, “why do flames jump up and down?”, and “why aren’t people at the South Pole upside down?”. On the pod are Graham Lawton, Anna Demming, Caroline Williams, and Richard Webb. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
19/02/21·24m 24s

#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 why scientists need to take the search for intelligent life more seriously. The team also finds out whether it’s ever ethical or sustainable to eat fish, they share the musical tones of an 18,000-year-old conch, and in a new segment which answers children’s ‘but why?’ questions, they tackle “what’s behind the sky?”. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, Graham Lawton, Caroline Williams, and Leah Crane. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
12/02/21·27m 23s

#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&aposs 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 carbon targets, the team discusses renewed hype about hydrogen as a sustainable fuel source. They also share a breakthrough in touch-sensitive robots, and explore the surprisingly controversial history of the evolution of flowers. On the pod are Tiffany O’Callaghan, Graham Lawton, Caroline Williams, and Adam Vaughan. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
05/02/21·26m 37s

#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 of reality. There’s the news that artificial intelligence is now able to figure out what song you’re listening to, just by studying your brainwaves. And the team also discusses new methods being used to search for sun-harnessing megastructures known as Dyson spheres, and they examine new satellite data which shows 28 trillion tonnes of ice disappeared globally between 1994 and 2017. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, Michael Le Page, and Caroline Williams. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.If you’ve been affected by domestic violence, there are a number of charities that can help. UK National Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0808 2000 247; US National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233; Aus 1800Respect: 1800 737 732. Search online for local alternatives. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
29/01/21·24m 42s

#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. There’s also news that questions our assumptions about why water is essential for life, as well as a story of hope in the form of President Joe Biden’s long list of climate action plans. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, Layal Liverpool and Graham Lawton. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
22/01/21·26m 36s

#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-fast computers and ultra-efficient renewable energy. They also discuss the huge biodiversity issue that is coral loss, and how a team of researchers on Heron Island is helping to boost corals on the Great Barrier Reef. Then there’s news from Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, and his plans for a new zero carbon city, and an exposé on the cannibalistic tendencies of ancient megalodon sharks. On the panel are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, Clare Wilson, Donna Lu and Michael Brooks. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
15/01/21·34m 24s

#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 for your heart as you might think. We discuss the discovery of ancient bones in a cave in South Africa which may belong to a new species of human. There’s also a look at how scientists are using soda bread as a scaffold for growing cells, which could be promising for lab-grown meat, and we discuss the result in the Georgia election for the US senate, and why that spells hope for action on climate change. On the panel are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, Clare Wilson and Michael Le Page. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
08/01/21·26m 5s

#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 finds out whether we’re going to be able to get back on track in the fight against climate change, and they discuss the growing problem of microplastics, as this year we hope to learn more about the impact these tiny particles have on our health. As a bonus, the team shares their cultural picks for the new year. On the panel are Rowan Hooper, Cat de Lange, Layal Liverpool, Adam Vaughan, Leah Crane and Chelsea Whyte. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
01/01/21·29m 5s

#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 hope, and the panelists discuss the news they’re most hoping to hear in 2021. On the panel are Rowan Hooper, Layal Liverpool, Graham Lawton, Penny Sarchet and Sam Wong. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Happy holidays from the whole team at New Scientist, and have a cracking New Year! New Scientist Weekly returns on January 1, 2021. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
18/12/20·28m 35s